For several years, Coca-Cola and Castel have been reviewing their partnerships. The two beverage giants are engaged in a terrible battle in the soda sector.
While, on the one hand, the Atlanta firm delays the IPO in South Africa of its continental subsidiary Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA), on the other hand, Coca-Cola is active on the rest of the continent and seems to be changing its tune. According to Africa Intelligence, the soft drink firm “continues to unravel its African partnerships”. Latest operation: the end of the allocation of the Coca-Cola license to the Ivorian bottler Solibra. The Société de limonaderies et de brasseries d'Afrique, which belongs to Castel and which bottled Coca-Cola products in Yopougon, has indeed been informed of the end of its partnership with the American giant.
This license withdrawal, scheduled for next July, corresponds to a repositioning of Coca-Cola on the continent. Since settling in Africa, the Atlanta giant multiplied acquisitions and partnerships. And among the historical partners of the American firm, the Castel group was in a comfortable position. But lately, there is water in the gas between the two industrialists. Result: in addition to the end of the Castel-Coca partnership in Côte d'Ivoire, the French group has announced that it will no longer be the bottler of Coca-Cola in Cameroon, Senegal, Burkina Faso or Angola.
How Castel wants to compete with Coca-Cola
The end of a quarter century of collaboration between the two groups. Several recently, it was in Madagascar that Castel and Coca-Cola ended their partnership. But this does not mean that the American intends to disengage from the continent: in 2019, he announced that he wanted to invest massively in Africa. In Côte d'Ivoire, Coca-Cola has simply changed its tune: it will be the Carré d'Or group, owned by the Lebanese-Ivorian Ezzedine family, which will bottle Coca-Cola drinks this summer.
And if Castel and Coca-Cola remain closely linked – Equatorial Coca-Cola Bottling Co (ECCBC) is now in the capital of two Algerian subsidiaries of the French brewer – these breaches of contract are due to disagreements between the two giants. Castel criticizes Coca-Cola for imposing unprofitable conditions on it, while the American firm criticizes Castel for wanting to play its own part with its drinks, like Youki in Côte d'Ivoire, but also World Cola a almost everywhere in Africa or from Top to Cameroon.
For its part, Coca-Cola is therefore counting on the expansion of ECCBC in sub-Saharan Africa to develop. Faced with the American, Castel can count on its factories already in place: the French group is already present in twenty countries and has 170 bottling lines. According to Africa Intelligence, a veritable war of influence is beginning: "Castel should indeed push for its usual distributors to limit their cooperation with Carré d'Or and distribute YouZou and World Cola instead", indicates the newspaper.