Jorge López Dóriga: AJE is one of the largest multinational beverage companies, with a presence in more than 20 countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa, and with 15,000 direct and indirect employees.
Globally, AJE is the 10th largest soft drinks company in sales volume and the fourth largest producer of carbonated soft drinks (source: Euromonitor, 2011). AJE’s vision is to be one of the top 20 multinational companies by the year 2020.
With a strong commitment to democratising consumption, AJE reaches out to new consumer groups and provides them with access to high quality products at fair prices. In addition to its flagship brand, Big Cola, AJE’s product portfolio is complemented with brands such as Cielo, Cifrut, Pulp, Sporade and Volt in the categories of water and juices, as well as hydrating and energy drinks.
AJE sells more than three billion litres of beverages a year, and we have grown at an impressive rate since the company was founded 26 years ago. Our compound annual growth rate (CAGR) was 22% (in litres sold) between 2000-2013. I don’t think many other companies, in any sector, can boast numbers like this!
Jorge López Dóriga: AJE began its operations 26 years ago in Peru and made its first incursion abroad in 1999 when we started operations in Venezuela. Since then, we have expanded to a number of other Latin American countries: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama. These markets are crucial for the success of our brands and business, and we have in general experienced significant growth in the carbonated and non-carbonated beverage sectors.
While some markets are more mature (eg in Mexico, the consumption of carbonated soft drinks in 2012 was 146 litres per person, second only to the US), others have a stronger potential for growth, as their consumption levels have only more recently started to grow significantly. For example, in Peru, where AJE is the market leader with its Cielo brand, the entire bottled water market has seen significant growth, increasing 20-fold over the past 10 years.
Jorge López Dóriga: ‘Big’ is our flagship brand, sold in all of the over 20 markets in which AJE is present around the world: in Latin America, Asia and Africa. The cola flavour (Big Cola) is the most popular and is the fourth most sold carbonated soft drink in the world (source: Euromonitor, 2011).
Several of our other brands, including Cielo (water), Cifrut (juice drink), Pulp (nectar), Sporade (sports drink) and Volt (energy drink) are among the leading brands in their respective categories in several markets.
All our global brands have just gone through an extensive rebranding exercise in which we worked together with Interbrand, and the results are spectacular!
We continuously innovate with new flavours for our existing brands in order to respond to local tastes and preferences, as well as trends. For example, in Indonesia we have launched Big Melon and Big Grape, while in Colombia we have introduced Big Pineapple.
We also have some very exciting projects in the pipeline to develop products with functional (health) benefits.
Jorge López Dóriga: We began operations in Thailand in 2006, and this was our first incursion outside Latin America. 2011 was our first full year of operations in Indonesia, Vietnam and India. The Southeast Asian market represents a significant opportunity for AJE; these countries have large, young and fast-growing populations with lower per capita consumption of carbonated soft drinks than other regions, such as Latin America.
The results in our two main markets – Indonesia and Thailand – have been impressive! For example, in just four years of presence in the Indonesian market, Big Cola now has a market share of 42% in the carbonated soft drink category. And just recently, in February, Fortune Magazine (Indonesia) dedicated its cover story to us saying Big Cola was the next big thing. In Thailand, despite the recent entry into the market of a strong local competitor, Big Cola remains the third most sold carbonated soft drink in the country.
Jorge López Dóriga: In 2013, AJE celebrated an important milestone: our 25th anniversary. Having started out in Peru in 1988 selling just a few hundred bottles a day, we now have a presence in more than 20 countries.
In 2013, we continued our expansion in geographic terms and in terms of brand and product innovation. We entered the Bolivian market in Latin America, and – very excitingly – entered Africa for the first time, with an operation in Reunion Island together with our local partner Edena.
The year’s first big marketing campaign was Big Cola’s Animal Orchestra campaign, which profiled a zoo keeper in Africa who had trained his animals to perform a piece of music by Mozart, with the TV commercial using real animal sounds and being filmed on-site in Africa.
In Latin America, Big Cola is very proud to be a regional partner of Fútbol Club Barcelona FCB, one of the best football clubs in the world, and one that resonates well with our consumers. In 2013, we had a campaign to win a trip to Barcelona to meet and play with David Villa, one of the star players of the team.
Other highlights in 2013 included the introduction of our Cielo water brand to Colombia, where we are now leading the market in the single-serve format. Big Cola is also the second most sold cola beverage in the country.
Jorge López Dóriga: I started my professional career at Buena Vista Entertainment (Disney) and then moved on to Sony BMG; always in marketing positions and with a strong focus on the entertainment business. I believe that also in AJE, we are in the business of entertaining and inspiring our consumers; we don’t just sell beverages but we sell experiences and want to provide our fans with opportunities to think ‘big’ and make their dreams come true!
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019