Coke eyes American launch for Zero Sugar as calorie-free drink boosts sales in Europe

Coca-Cola will launch its reformulated sugar-free version Zero Sugar in the US in August, after the drink recorded double-digit growth in other regions.

Speaking on a call to investors as the company announced its results for the second quarter of 2017, president and chief executive James Quincey cited the roll-out of Zero Sugar, which debuted in the UK last June, as an example of Coca-Cola’s "keen effort on innovation, small pack sizes and more robust segmentation of our existing portfolio".

The business reported organic revenue growth in EMEA of 6% year on year during the quarter – though currency fluctuations meant that reported revenues in the region were flat.

Other successes in Europe, Quincey said, included Innocent, which achieved double-digit sales growth as a result of expanded distribution and product innovations such as the brand’s "super smoothies".

He added that the presence of Coca-Cola European Partners, the bottling company covering the UK, which was created in 2016 from the merger of three regional bottlers, had strengthened its performance.

He said: "In Europe we are already seeing better results than we have in recent years as Coca-Cola European Partners leverages best practices from its three predecessors and we work together to bring new products to the market at a faster pace."

The company’s global reported net revenues plunged 16% year on year to $9.7bn (£7.4bn) in the three months to the end of June 2017, though this was heavily influenced by a refranchising process in the US, in which the company is divesting from its bottling operations. On an organic basis, revenues were up 3% year on year. 

The pattern was similar for pre-tax income, which was down 39% year on year in reported figures between April and June, but up 1% on a comparable basis.

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