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Coke: Taste the Desalination

Words by Daniel Bosley; Pictures by Aishath Naj

While the Maldives invites visitors to experience the ‘Sunny Side of Life’, anyone purchasing Coca-Cola in the country can literally drink it.

Of the 900 coke factories worldwide, the small plant in Kaafu Thulusdhoo may be one of the most unusual – thought to be the only one using desalinated sea-water in its products.

Established on the island more than 30 years ago by the Male Aerated Water Company (MAWC), the site remains the sole distributor of Coke, Sprite, and Fanta in the Maldives. On an island of just around 1,400 people, the factory is the main employer, with over 100 workers, and has leant its name to Thulusdhoo’s ‘Cokes’ surf break.

In 2015, the plant produced more than 9 million litres of soft drinks for the resorts and local islands. That’s enough to fill four olympic swimming pools with a carbonated cocktail. In resort speak; an infinity pool of sparkling refreshment. In dentist speak; a lot of holidays to the Maldives paid for.

The site also produces Bon Aqua bottled water – which required the more than 22 million litres of [insert clear blue water synonym here] from the Indian Ocean last year.  

The company also sponsors free water distribution points for the islanders (compensating perhaps for the fact that locals cannot obtain cheaper alternatives on the island), as well as the local children’s playground (compensating perhaps for caffeinated hyperactivity).

School trips to the site are common, where children can see where the bottles are moulded and filled, although those who learn the well-guarded secrets of the syrup room are unlikely to be heard from again.

While the parent company maintains the marketing rights to the Coca-Cola brand, perhaps they might let MAWC go their own way on this one.

How about: ‘Coke: Taste the Maldives’, ‘Always Coca Cola (previously seawater)’, ‘Drink it, Swim it’? Or maybe just stick with one of the brand’s former slogans, ‘the Coke Side of Life’.

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