Coke pushes low-sugar options

BY    2013-05-10 21:32:22

  Move part of drinks giant's plan to boost availability of products

  The Coca-Cola Company, the world's leading beverage maker, is expected to enhance the availability of low or no calorie beverages in China and continue to emphasize its marketing of carbonated drinks in second- and third-tier cities, a top executive said on Thursday.

  Ahmet Bozer, president of Coca-Cola International, said customers in the central and western regions of China will have more opportunities to purchase Coke Zero and Coke Light beverages in addition to the drink's sugared version.

  Bozer spoke after visiting the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in western China and Zhengzhou, Henan province, in the country's central region.

  He said the low or no calorie beverages are part of the company's global pledge to help fight obesity in more than 200 countries by offering more choices and transparency to customers.

  The commitments, which were announced on Wednesday, include offering low or no calorie beverage options in every market, supporting physical activity programs and not advertising to children under 12 years old.

  Bozer said obesity is one of the most challenging health issues in the world.

  Coca-Cola's efforts are a response to a trend in China that has seen healthy drinks take a larger share of the market, while that of carbonated beverages has decreased, according to an industry report last year.

  The China Industrial Information Issuing Center report found carbonated beverages' market share reduced to 21.91 percent compared with water's 25.7 percent and juice's 22.24 percent. Carbonated beverages had a 36 percent share in 2000.

  Coca-Cola's first quarter sales in China this year grew just 1 percent due to the bad weather and economic slowdown.

  But the soft drink maker is pleased with the performance of its carbonated and juice categories, and considers the slowdown to be temporary, according to Bozer.

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