TASTE OF SUCCESS

Colombia 2020 | INDUSTRY & AGRICULTURE | INTERVIEW

By focusing on execution, innovation, and digital transformation, Postobón has been recognized as the best bottling company in the world by PepsiCo.

Miguel Fernando Escobar
BIOGRAPHY

Miguel Fernando Escobar studied business administration at Universidad EAFIT and has a master's in economics from Notre Dame University in the US. He has worked for Owens-Illinois in different capacities, including general manager of sales and marketing in Peru and Colombia, president of OI-Colombia, and president of OI-North America Region. He also was general manager of Brinsa in Colombia. In 2012, he was invited by Dr. Carlos Ardila Lulle to return to Colombia and become VP of the Organización Ardila Lülle. He has been Postobón's CEO since 2013. He is also part of the board of directors of ANDI, the Private Council of Competitiveness, and Fundación Proantioquia.

What determining factors have helped Postobón remain a leader in the Colombian beverage industry since its establishment?Postobón has been in the market for about 115 years and has had a clear passion and agenda based on innovation. We have been bottling and packaging different products that today are considered “new age" but, for us, are centenary products. Our success has been based on innovation, products, flavor, packaging, distribution, and our market channels. We have a solid distribution system that helps us to continue building our leadership and multi-category platform. That is why we consider our leadership strong, and we will continue in the same way in the coming years.

What does it mean to be recognized as the best bottling company in Latin America by PepsiCo, and what is your strategic alliance?
Globally, we were recognized as the best in Latin America. We then competed in an open discussion with PepsiCo on its global franchise program, and it recognized us as the best in the world. We are not the biggest; we are the best-performing bottler in the year with execution, innovation, and an agenda of digital transformation. We have a robust relationship with PepsiCo, as we are closely aligned with its brands. We have our own brands, but we have the franchise, and PepsiCo recognizes Postobón's great execution of its agenda.

You also have an agreement with United Brewing Company (CCU) Chile. How strategic are these agreements, and are you looking for further alliances?
In 2016, we drafted our agenda for the future where we outlined our plan to transform the company into a multicategory company, beyond the traditional soft drink products we sell in the market. We wanted to penetrate the market with different products, like beer and malt. With our own new brands, like Andina in beer and Nutrimalta in malt, we decided to enter into a 50-50 partnership with CCU. We are making progress every day according to our objectives. We will continue making more investments in the industry to achieve our long-term objectives. We are open to continuing to explore new opportunities because the multicategory is far beyond what we used to do and goes beyond beer and malt. We have a huge platform and a powerful distribution network that we want to continue to take advantage of and capture value in the market.

What role does innovation and technology play in your production process?
Everything is based on those two concepts. Innovation has to be present in everything we do. We will not have a “copy-paste" of a product. Innovation and digital transformation will play an integral role in the future of the company. Digital transformation is happening today in our company, and we are putting important capital investment behind that agenda. Hopefully, in the near future, we will conquer new markets based on technology. That is a fundamental part of our agenda today, and it will be more relevant by the day.

What is your outlook for Postobón in the coming years?
We continue to be optimistic and believe Colombia is a great place to invest. Consumption is moving forward in this country, and with more people entering the middle class, we see consumption of many different products expanding. This will continue to happen in the near future, and we want to capture that opportunity. We want to continue to invest. We have a robust capital investment program through which we will continue investing in the country, expanding in capacity and distribution. We can continue expanding with double-digit growth in the near future.