Carst and Walker
Coca-Cola 125 years

On Coke’s 125th anniversary: Coca-Cola South Africa celebrates

On the 8th of May 1886 a global icon was born. From humble beginnings 125 years ago, Coca-Cola has become the world’s most valuable brand. Here’s how Coca-Cola South Africa is celebrating this milestone anniversary ….

Coca-Cola was invented in 1886 by pharmacist Dr John Pemberton in Atlanta, Georgia. Initially sold at soda fountains at a rate of nine servings a day, Coca-Cola has grown into a beverage enjoyed around the world. With operations in more than 200 countries, The Coca-Cola Company has 15 billion-dollar brands. Along with Coca-Cola, the company has more than 500 sparkling and still brands with servings of 1.7 billion each day worldwide.

During the month of May, Coca-Cola South Africa is inviting its employees, customers, consumers and business partners to share in the happiness of 125 years of making a meaningful difference in communities. To commemorate this special anniversary, Coca-Cola South Africa is funding community grants totalling R1.25-million for initiatives that align with its “Live for A Difference” sustainability priorities: water stewardship, recycling, entrepreneurship, HIV/AIDs and nutrition and wellbeing.

Successful grantees will be accredited organisations with the expertise to help Coca-Cola South Africa invest in the future growth and development of communities. In addition, Coca-Cola South Africa will unite families through its Family Reunion programme.

Bill Egbe“Coca-Cola is a part of the fabric of society in South Africa. Through our economic, social and environmental investments, we strive to make a positive and meaningful difference in the lives of South Africans. Our 125th anniversary is an opportunity to look back and also to look forward to the next 125 years of growing together,” said Bill Egbe, President, Coca-Cola South Africa (left).

Since first being sold in St George’s Square in Cape Town, Coca-Cola says it has invested consistently in initiatives that have helped to improve the standard of living in communities in South Africa and to contribute to the local economy.

Today, Coca-Cola South Africa and its four bottling partners — Amalgamated Beverage Industries (ABI – part of SABMiller), Coca-Cola Fortune (part of Coca-Cola SABCO), Peninsula Beverage Co and Coca-Cola Shanduka Beverages SA — employ approximately 9 000 people in South Africa. The last Economic Impact Survey conducted in 2009 confirmed that the Coca-Cola business contributes approximately 1.4 percent of the nation’s GDP, both directly and indirectly.

In the past 10 years, Coca-Cola has invested US$5-billion in the continent and expects to invest an additional US$12-billion by 2020. South Africa is the lead market for The Coca-Cola Company on the continent and is well-positioned for continued growth. In addition, South Africa is the sixth market in the world based on the consumption of Coca-Cola.

Last year, Coca-Cola helped Open Happiness across South Africa and the world through its FIFA World Cup activation. This year it says it intends to continue sharing happiness with the country by celebrating 125 years of the world’s most valuable brand.

Grant Applications may be completed at

Coke bottleCoca-Cola Milestones in South Africa

Early 1930s: The Coca-Cola Export Corp appointed Messrs Goldberg and Zeffert in Johannesburg as the first concessionaire bottler in South Africa and shipped syrup to them from the US.

1938: Coca-Cola was first introduced to Cape Town in the form of fountain syrup shipped from the US to the Waldorf Café in St George’s Street, where it was served from a soda fountain.

1939: Plant opened in Durban and the first franchise bottler, Mr EW Woolcock, was appointed in Witbank.

1960: South Africa’s first animated (moving) spectacular sign was erected atop the Merchandise Centre in the north eastern suburbs of Johannesburg. The sign, 45 feet long and 10 ½ feet high, had a clock and nine metal rotating panels that read “Drink Coca-Cola” on one side and “Be Really Refreshed” on the other.

1962: Two Coca-Cola employees helped relocate two orphaned lion cubs from Uganda to the Johannesburg Zoo.

1966: Featherweight boxing champion Levi Madi received a gold watch and prize belt from the company in Johannesburg and named him “sportsman of the year.”

1983: Diet Coke was introduced to South Africa during a massive international rollout.

1986: Coca-Cola Export Corp closed office and divested its South African interests. The company continued to supply its concentrate to franchise operators in South Africa.

1994: Coca-Cola returns to South Africa.

1995: In South Africa in 1995, special trademarked taxi cabs were equipped with coolers filled with Coca‑Cola and other company products.

2007: The Coca-Cola Company and The Coca-Cola Foundation presented a gift of US$3-million to the Nelson Mandela Foundation to help preserve the Mandela Papers and artefacts symbolizing the courage and leadership of President Nelson Mandela.

2007: On World Water Day, KO and the US Agency for International Development announce they would invest US$7-million in nine new water initiatives in Africa; since teaming up in November 2005, USAID and KO have supported water activities in Bolivia, Mali, Indonesia, Malawi, Egypt, Thailand, Uganda and South Africa.

2010: Coca-Cola helped bring South Africa’s first FIFA World Cup to the continent and sponsored the Trophy tour throughout the continent.

Coca-Cola South Africa:

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