Monday, January 21, 2013

Zest-O to build manufacturing plants in China, Myanmar

The Zest-O group is eyeing to expand its manufacturing footprint across Asia, enabling the beverage firm to tap the huge population of booming economies in the region.

Former ambassador Alfredo Yao, Zest-O chairman, said the company is in talks to build manufacturing plants in China and Myanmar, with the benchmark investment for each facility expected to reach P250 million.

"We may spend more in Myanmar because we are thinking of [putting up] a bottling company there. We are following what we did here with RC Cola," Yao said.

Myanmar is on the brink of economic resurgence as it opens up to foreign investment and trade following decades of military rule. Zest-O is among those seeking a piece of what can be a very lucrative market.

"Galing ‘yan [Myanmar] sa embargo. Like you're pouring water in the dessert area," said Yao.

Zest-O has production plants in the Middle East and Indonesia, with operations abroad accounting for less than a tenth of the company's total business. It exports products to China, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Middle East, and the United States.

As exports become more expensive, Zest-O will focus on expanding its manufacturing presence overseas, said Yao, adding that the company employed a strategy of initially testing offshore markets through exports before expanding its operations there.

“This year, we will be doing good overseas. Our China operations will be okay. We’re just starting but it will have a snowball effect,” said Yao.

Aside from flagship Zest-O, the company markets Sunglo and Big 250 juice drinks as well as carbonated drinks and fruit sodas under the RC Cola, Zest-O-Cola, Rootbeer, and Twist brands. The company also offers health drinks under the One brand.

"It's the same product. We have to change a little of the packaging. We have to change the flavor and make some adjustments," said Yao, adding that Zest-O’s domestic business continues to grow and is seen to expand by double digits this year.

Established in 1981 as Semexco Markting Corp, Zest-O pioneered the first ready-to-drink juice in flexible foil pouch. The company operates five manufacturing plants in the Philippines and employs approximately 100 personnel for each facility.-Interaksyon (January 21, 2013 5:21PM)

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