TORONTO — More Coca-Cola beverages will soon be rolling off assembly lines in Quebec and Ontario as one of the company's independent bottlers moves more of its production work to Canada.
Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Ltd. said Thursday that it will spend more than $35 million in an expansion plan that will see some of its manufacturing moved from the U.S. to the Greater Toronto Area and Montreal.
"These investments are critical to our mission and will help us increase our owned manufacturing capabilities in the Greater Toronto Area for many years to come," said the company's chief executive Todd Parsons, in a release.
The company plans to spend $17 million on its Weston plant for new equipment that will help it respond to the growing demand for carbonated beverages.
The equipment is expected to be in use by the first quarter of next year with full production timed for the spring.
Many of the products the equipment will be used on are currently being manufactured in the U.S., Parsons said.
Coca-Cola Canada Bottling also plans to spend $12.8 million by the summer at its bottling facility in Brampton, Ont. The investment will create nine new jobs at the plant, on top of its current 1,300.
In Quebec, the company will invest $5.5 million at its facility in the Montreal suburb of Lachine.
“We’re very committed to our mission to create a better future and deliver optimism for our employees, customers, consumers, and communities and investing in our manufacturing facilities is one of the ways we intend to do that,” Parsons said.
Drink manufacturers, including Coke Canada Bottling, have been facing several challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because they provide an essential service — food — they've allowed to remain open, but have had to contend with reorienting facilities to allow for physical distancing between employees and increased cleanings of equipment.
Meanwhile, the industry's sales have seen some pressure points arise.
Arenas, schools, theatres and restaurants have closed under public health orders as the world tries to quell the spread of the virus.
The closures of such venues, which typically see high sales numbers and large customer volumes, have left beverage manufacturers with one less revenue stream and much uncertainty around when they'll reopen.
Coca-Cola Canada Bottling is a family-owned business that employees more than 5,500 workers and has more than 50 sales and distribution centres and five manufacturing facilities in Canada.
The company makes, distributes and sells products including Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta, Barq's Rootbeer, Nestea, Powerade, Dasani and Vitaminwater.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 17, 2020.
Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press