COCA-COLA Beverages Philippines, Inc. posted its worst sales in the country after losing demand from restaurant and convenience store clients, which account for at least half of its revenue, amid a coronavirus lockdown.

“We definitely have seen consumption patterns change dramatically,” Coca-Cola Philippines President and General Manager Winn Everhart said at a news briefing on Thursday.

“Businesses that are away from home that used to be close to 50% of our business if not more have pretty much gone away,” he added.

Majority of sales shifted to home-based consumption, the company said.

While consumers tended to stock up on Coke products during the lockdown, this did not make up for the sales decline as people cut their trips to stores.

Sales in March and April were “the worst months we’ve ever experienced within the Philippines,” although demand has since improved, Mr. Everhart said.

“We do see it sequentially getting better,” he said. “We’re still declining depending on your day or week or month, but at the same time, we do have certain categories or channels within those categories that are doing really well.”

The company expects 2021 to remain a “tough year” even if Filipino consumers are more resilient than the rest of the world, he added.

The first four to five weeks of quarantine restrictions also led to distribution delays, causing a dip in supplies, Coca-Cola President and Chief Executive Officer Gareth McGeown said at the same briefing.

The Philippine-based company bottles and distributes Coca-Cola products such as soft drinks, water and juices in the country.

The company in July said it was investing P1.1 billion more in its local operations for 2020 as it adds new production lines in Luzon and Mindanao. This includes investments in Misamis Oriental, Zamboanga and Santa Cruz, outside Davao.

This puts total investment for the year at P4.74 billion.

Mr. McGeown said the company hired about 140 people at the end of last year to operate more manufacturing lines.

Coca-Cola delayed the development of its P1-billion recyclable polyethylene terephthalate bottle recycling facility to next year because of the lockdown.

There’s a dearth in local technicians, Mr. Everhart said, noting that operating equipment at its facility requires technical engineering expertise.

Coca-Cola has been in talks with the Board of Investments to register the project. The company operates 19 manufacturing plants and more than 70 sales and distribution offices in the country. — Jenina P. Ibañez