By Nectaria Metrakos, Health & Nutrition Director, Coca‑Cola in Europe
When people ask me where I work, the follow-up is inevitably if I regularly drink Coca‑Cola Original Taste with sugar. My answer is ‘yes, but not that often’. Surprised?
You shouldn’t be. Like many others, I try to manage the amount of sugar I consume daily and I often prefer to enjoy the great taste of our drinks without the sugar and calories. A lot of our consumers do the same. In fact, today 42% of our beverage volume in Europe comes from drinks that are low or no calorie.* We aim for that share to reach 50% by 2025.
If 136 years of selling drinks around the world has taught Coca‑Cola anything, it is that our success as a business hinges on understanding what people want. And what people are asking for today is clear – drinks with less sugar and more nutritional benefits. But above all else, they want their drinks to taste good.
Our beverage portfolio includes more than 200 brands and thousands of great-tasting beverages around the world aimed at offering consumers choices that fit their needs throughout the day, from coffee, tea, juices and waters to sports drinks, dairy and plant-based beverages and, of course, sparkling soft drinks.
We know that too much sugar isn’t good for anyone, and for years, we’ve prioritized our efforts on what has been shown to work: reformulation and portion control.** Today, we continue to prioritize sugar reduction in our products and to invest heavily in sweetener innovations to help people better manage their sugar intake from our drinks without compromising on great taste.
Taking Action on Sugar Reduction
So how do we do it? Since 2010, at Coca‑Cola in Europe we’ve launched more than 280 reformulated drinks with less sugar. We recently launched a new Coca‑Cola Zero Sugar recipe to encourage more people to try a great Coca‑Cola taste without the sugar and calories. One of the ways we achieve great taste without the sugar and calories for many of our drinks is by using non-sugar sweeteners with low or no calories.
By 2025, we aim for 50% of the drinks we sell in Europe to be low- and no-calorie drinks. To reach that goal, we continue to prioritize sugar reduction and to adapt our marketing campaigns to actively promote drinks with less or no sugar.
We’re actively promoting our low and no sugar drinks. Across Europe, more than 90% of our Coca‑Cola brand marketing features Coca‑Cola Zero Sugar.
And we encourage portion control by offering a wider choice of smaller cans and bottles – such as our 150ml mini-cans and 250ml slim cans – so that people can enjoy the same great tastes in sizes that are right for them.
Taken together, the effect is significant. Together with our industry peers at UNESDA Soft Drinks Europe, we have reduced average added sugars in soft drinks by 28.6% across the European Union and the United Kingdom since 2000. Through UNESDA, we have pledged to reduce average added sugars by an additional 10% between 2019 and 2025 across the European Union and the United Kingdom that will represent a 33% overall reduction in average added sugars for our industry since 2000.
Still, we can’t do it alone, not as a company or as a sector. If we want to create healthier food environments, we need to take a holistic approach from all industries and all parts of society — business, governments, and all European citizens. We all have to pull in the same direction.
*Based on FY2021 global case sales data. Excludes Multon, Global Ventures. **McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report “Overcoming obesity: An initial economic analysis”