Jim Dinkins, Coca-Cola North America president
Coca-Cola North America (CCNA) has unveiled plans to replace Sandy Douglas, who is retiring, with chief retail officer and head of its Minute Maid business Jim Dinkins.
Now Dinkins has told Coca-Cola’s communications vehicle, Coca-Cola Journey, that the business must “continue following the consumer by accelerating innovation and expanding our portfolio to give people the beverages they want”.
“We can never stand still in this fast-changing marketplace,” the incoming president of CCNA said. “We must continue building capabilities to better serve consumers and customers in an increasingly digital world. I’m passionate about fostering an agile and entrepreneurial culture where our people are empowered to test new ideas and put them into action quickly.”
Dinkins’ comments mirror a consensus in the food and beverage industry: that even the largest companies need to be embracing innovation and working collaboratively with entrepreneurs and third parties.
In May, then-president of DSM Food Specialties Ilona Haaijer told FoodBev that she was really excited by the collaborative opportunities presented by the company’s new biotechnology R&D centre in Delft, in the Netherlands.
Major companies like Fonterra, Chobani and PepsiCo have all launched their own incubator or crowdsourcing schemes, in an effort to foster the next generation of food and beverage entrepreneurs.
Speaking about his retirement, Douglas said he had set ‘a personal goal’ of stepping away after the refranchising programme had been completed – expected by the end of the year – and added that, as he approaches 30 years with the company, now was the right time.
Douglas continued: “Our entire strategy over the past decade has been focused on evolving our business for the future. First, we saw the opportunity to redesign the economic model with our independent bottling partners. We worked together to rewrite bottling contracts that had been in place for decades, and refranchising was the catalyst to make those changes.
“We’ve created an aligned system that is focused on creating value, which shifts us away from our traditional focus on sales volume. That change is much more than just a business tactic. It’s a strategy that ensures the system has the right incentives in place.
“We’ve also accelerated innovation and expanded our portfolio. We’ve had great success with internal innovations like Gold Peak tea. Our Venturing & Emerging Brands unit, which turned ten years old this year, has brought some great brands into our portfolio, like Honest Tea, Zico coconut water and Fairlife dairy products. VEB is continually working on a future pipeline of new products in growing categories.”
And, looking ahead to the future, Jim Dinkins continued: “Sandy often talks about how cool it is to play for a team that’s winning championships even though we’re not very good yet. I love that analogy, because it means we have to continue striving to get better every day.
“Our consumers’ wants and needs are changing, our customers are becoming more complex and, of course, we must improve our own capabilities so we can make our day-to-day work easier and get new products and ideas into the market faster. In a way, we’re still in the early stages of our journey to truly become the best and most consumer- and customer-centric consumer goods company in North America. And that’s very exciting for me personally.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2018