The Mexican beer company and Heineken subsidiary Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma is stepping up in a big way.
After delivering their initial store of canned water that they produce yearly in case of a national emergency, the company announced Wednesday that they would halt beer production at their Orizaba, MX plant.
They will instead use the plant for producing an additional 1 million cans of water for distribution to earthquake victims.
How it works
According to Marco Mascarua, Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma’s vice president of corporate affairs in Mexico, hurricanes frequently hit the country. So anticipating a future need for water in the midst of a natural disaster, three years ago Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma committed to producing and keeping a 70,000-can stock of water in the case of an emergency.
“A couple of years ago we thought about what we could do to help the community,” said Mascarua. “Mexico usually gets hit during the hurricane season. So we thought it was a good idea to have water in stock in different regions.”
The brand ordinarily produces beers like Heineken along with Tecate and Dos Equis at their plants. So to produce water, they needed to make some changes. The company needed approval from Mexico’s government, and they would need to have a facility that could comply with the country’s drinking water standards. They decided to equip their Orizaba, MX plant with the government-approved and permitted infrastructure necessary to produce water. They ran their first pilot of water production and distribution last year. And before the two recent earthquakes hit, had compiled a store of 70,000 cans.
“A lot of people think that this was an idea of this weekend.”
“A lot of people think that this was an idea of this weekend,” said Mascarua. “No, it requires a lot of planning. It requires obtaining authorization because water has to be purified, you have to clear the beer from the system. There’s a lot of things behind it.”
After the 8.1-magnitude earthquake hit off of Mexico’s southern Pacific coast on Sept. 7 and devastated parts of Oaxaca, Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma began distributing their 70,0000-can stock of water, which they keep in different locations across the country. The company coordinated with Mexico’s agency for Civil Protection, but largely used their own delivery trucks and employees to get the water where it was needed most.
“Having the water in stock in different regions in Mexico gives you the ability to respond within hours,” said Mascarua.
But once the second smaller, but more urban and deadly, earthquake hit on Sept. 19, the need for water started to exceed what they already had on hand. The leadership of Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma gathered, and decided to halt beer distribution at the Orizaba plant. They have pledged to produce and distribute an additional 1 million cans.
“We met as a crisis team, and within the first few minutes of the meeting, we made a decision,” said Mascarua. “We are very aligned on our mission of building a better Mexico.”
Cans initially went to affected areas in Oaxaca, Puebla, and Mexico City. But with widespread damage, Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma is deciding where to send the additional cans, as they’re produced, in real time.
They announced the initiative on Facebook, writing “more help is coming to Oaxaca And Morelos!”
The Mexican regions that will receive water are Mexico City, Mexico State, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Puebla, and Morelos. They will distribute the water to aid workers who are trying to recover victims, as well as those who have lost their home or access to water thanks to broken or corrupted tanks.
“This is happening as we speak because we are getting reports and we’re trying to see which are the areas that require the most, and we’re trying to address those first,” Mascarua explained.
The response to the company’s efforts have been largely positive on social media.
“I would be proud to one day work in a company like this that puts the interests of the people affected before their income by beer; ‘)” wrote Facebook user Pedro Sanchez on the brand’s page.
Though Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma had infrastructure and systems in place, they have still faced challenges marshaling the resources necessary for the relief effort.
“Without a doubt we have faced challenges,” said Mascarua. “Our business is to produce beer. So you have to stop your equipment, stop your brewery operations with beer. Clean the equipment. Put the water in cleaners and can the water. Also you need cooperation from your supplier, because we need the cans. We didn’t have the cans in stock, so we had to coordinate with suppliers to obtain the cans.”
“That’s when planning really makes a difference,” he added. “To have the possibility to really help where it’s most needed.”
Despite the challenges, Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma remains committed to fulfilling their goal. They see themselves as a company with “deep roots” in Mexico, who have a responsibility to serve residents and employees, and improve the country as a whole.
“This is a company that has been operating for 127 years [in Mexico],” said Mascarua. “Yes we have a foreign investor, but we consider ourselves very connected.”
Cheers to that 🍻.
If you want to send aid to earthquake victims, check out how to help with our guide to Mexico earthquake relief.