Could you tell us about the history of Tetra Pak in Colombia and its process of setting up affiliates and partners?
Tetra Pak has been present Colombia for 22 years. We entered the market because it represented the largest dairy opportunity in the region, since both milk production and consumption are huge. Having arrived, we immediately struck up alliances with strategic partners such as Colanta, Alpina , Alqueria, and Coca Cola. Postobon, for instance, has always been a significant partner of ours. From the outset, Colombia was identified as Tetra Pak's main focus in the region. And back in 2008, the Colombia operation took over responsibilities from Venezuela. Colombian operations have also overseen the Ecuadorian market from the outset. Therefore, the countries that constitute what we call North Andina—Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador—are all managed from Bogotá. In 2010 we decided to integrate two additional countries, namely Peru and Bolivia, which until then had been operating independently. We integrated them into North Andina and created Tetra Pak Andina. Tetra Pak not only provides the packages, but also the machines and equipment underpinning the process. We offer a diversity of supplies depending on what customers require. In this sense, the range of technical services we deliver is vast. It is impossible to have experts for all types of machine in every country of operation. However, by combining five countries, it is possible to share them throughout the region within the same company. This is a prime example of how to maximize resources, time, and efficiency through integration. For us the main focus of merging five countries is to provide better customer services.
Could you tell us about growth over the past year and, moving forward, what segments you are planning to focus on?
Our main segments in Colombia are dairy, juice, beverages, and alcohol. In dairy we combine regular and flavored milk. The second category is juice, nectar, and still drinks. This includes whole tins, 100% juice drinks, and related refreshments. The entire tin, what we call the beverage category, is the main one for us in Colombia. Over the past couple of years it has been growing quite aggressively, last year growing commercially by around 16%. For 2015 our forecast is for growth of 15% and we expect to maintain this rate through 2017. Moreover, growth is coming from all categories. Last year, the beverages category saw the highest growth level, and this year we expect dairy and beverages to remain the key categories. The alcohol category is also experiencing growth, albeit at a slower pace.
How did you succeed in increasing the recyclable packaging you use, and with which partners did you work?
The environment is one of our core focuses at Tetra Pak Global, and while our concerns are not confined to environmental issues, we may frame related efforts in the general context of social responsibility. Tetra Pak does not directly recycle its packages, but we have the know-how, which we share with companies interested in working with us. We are investing in machinery to support these companies in implementing recycling concepts adopted from Tetra Pak. What we want is for 100% of our packages to be recycled. But to start that, we need to promote certain alliances, which we have done with various entrepreneurs and companies in the business.
What are your near-term investment targets?
We will continue investing in capital equipment, but will also continue to invest in the environmental dimension of our operations. In terms of the plants themselves, this might become a focus for the future, although to realize this we first need to reach critical mass, and so it is rather difficult to put a date on such projects.
© The Business Year - May 2015