The beverage business certainly gets its share of criticism these days. But recently I’ve been thinking about how much good it does in the world. Good that goes completely unnoticed by the mass media.
I’ve touched on this issue before in this column, most recently in the one titled, “So Much Bad News!,” which ran in April’s Beverage World, and on our website. In that column I discussed how the media loves to harp on all the bad things about the beverage business because a lot of it can be pretty sensational. And also, I offered, because our industry is taken for granted. People have come to just expect their bottle of soda or water or beer or wine will be there for them whenever they want it.
However, in the past few days I’ve been really appreciating how this industry’s importance stretches beyond just bringing much-needed beverages to consumers. I’ve begun to see it as a truly uplifting force for not only the consumer, but for those who work in it all over the world.
This fact has always kind of been in the back of my mind as an editor covering this industry. For example, when I received an e-mail several months ago from a reader in Nepal, it made me appreciate the far reach not only of our magazine, but of the beverage business itself. I like to consider myself a pretty worldly person. But I must admit that my knowledge of Nepal didn’t consist of much more than Mount Everest. It just never occurred to me that somewhere in that country there must be a soft drink bottler, and a Coca-Cola one to boot. But why shouldn’t there be? It makes all the sense in the world that there is.
What I am getting at is that the far reach of the beverage business, thanks to the incredible success of its major players like Coca-Cola, has touched every part of the globe. And brought with it all the knowledge and business acumen it has accumulated over the years.
A good example is the recent news that a Palestinian bottler of Coke, the Ramallah-based National Beverage Company Coca-Cola/Cappy, has won an award from the Coke system for sustainable development in Africa and Eurasia. An article from the Ma’an News Agency quoted the company’s general manager Imad Al-Hindi: “For more than 14 years, the company has been producing a variety of high quality local and international beverages including juices, carbonated drinks, and mineral waters. The Palestinian market is full of obstacles and hardships, which the company turned into motives to serve the Palestinian society.”
The article goes on to say that the company also sponsors projects to support youth and children, sports, health, environment and education in Palestine. Despite all the strife in that region of the world, these Coke employees in Palestine go about their jobs on a daily basis producing soft drinks—and they do so in a sustainable way, no less. It’s truly a testament to their own work ethic and to the pride being part of the great global Coke system must give them. And also to the ability of the beverage business to serve as a global platform that lifts up everyone who touches it. It can be an island of normalcy in a world that, as we all know, can be extremely chaotic and challenging at times.