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Coke unveils more sugar-free soda

Coca Cola production line at CCBA Uganda Courtesy/ Photo.

Kampala, Uganda | ISAAC KHISA | Coca-Cola Beverage Africa has expanded its sugar-free drink in the Ugandan market as it seeks to tap into the increasing health-consciousness consumers.

The company says it has unveiled Stoney Zero Sugar, Fanta Zero Sugar, Coca Cola Zero Sugar and Sprite Zero Sugar as well as a wide range of Spar-lettas with reduced sugar quantities on the market.

“The major driver (for product diversification) is the changing consumer habits, tastes and preferences…(and) the increased consciousness of health – and that is why we present more healthy options for the more health-conscious consumer to choose from when they need refreshment,” Simon Kahereu, the Corporate Affairs Director at CCBA Uganda  told The Independent in an email.

Coca cola has since this year increased momentum on product diversification including milk production known as Climb Up, Fuze Tea and a cocktail of juices.

This development is in response to the 12-years of declining company sales of full calorie soda worldwide as the population become more health conscious and switches to drinking water instead.

Also, a number of countries including U.K., U.S. and South Africa have imposed taxes on the beverage to reduce consumption on sugar and raise revenue that can be used to prevent and control diabetes, obesity and other non-communicable diseases.

For instance, sales of soda drinks dropped 1.2 % in the U.S. in 2016, falling for the 12th year in a row, according to Beverage Digest as demand was hit by consumers choosing healthier options and a slew of sugar taxes aimed at stemming lifestyle-related diseases.

The per capita consumption of soda drinks, including energy drinks, fell to about 154 litres servings during the year, the lowest level since 1985 when the Beverage Digest began tracking consumption trends.

This situation triggered the US-headquartered beverage company to embrace production of low-sugar soda varieties across the globe starting with Coca Cola Zero Sugar in the U.K. in 2016 and later the rest of the world.

Last year, the company unveiled the soda brand as “Coca-Cola No Sugar” but had trouble gaining initial acceptance. Despite that, the company went ahead with a rebrand from Coke Zero to Coca Cola No Sugar.

However, in New Zealand, reports indicate that there are no plans to phase out the original Coca-Cola Zero formula, and that it will co-exist on the market alongside the reformulation, which is marketed under the name Coca-Cola No Sugar.

These new developments have seen Coca Cola record a slight growth in revenue. The company, for instance, recorded second-quarter earnings and revenue that beat analysts’ expectations in July this year, bolstered by its efforts to bring its diet drinks on the market.

Coca Cola recorded a net income of $2.32 billion up from earnings of $1.37 billion, during the same quarter a year ago. However, its revenue fell 8% to $8.9 billion from the previous year, but sales surpassed expectations.

The company said its volume grew 2%, driven in part by double-digit growth for Coca-Cola Zero Sugar. Its water and sports drinks grew 4 %.

Status of Uganda’s soda consumption

Kaheru said though soda consumption is no luxury to the local population due to the growing middle class it has caused changes in consumer behaviour.

He said more consumers are now more informed and more health conscious and as such are now opting for less sugary drinks.

“So far, these (sugar free) drinks have been very well-received by our soda consumers – because they know what they want and express their happiness if we give them what they want,” he said.

“We will see even more activity towards consumption during the months ahead as we roll out more innovations – not just in the soda category but with water, juice and nutritional drinks as well.”

Coca Cola’s new product portfolio

Fuze Tea in two variants – Apple & Lemongrass flavoured

Sprite Zero Sugar

Stoney Zero Sugar

Spar-Letta range –

Climb Up milk

Schweppes Dark Malt

Minute Maid ‘Pulpy’ Orange

Fanta Zero Sugar

Schweppes +C

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