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Coke to count calories, cut advertising

The Coca-Cola Company plans to offer low- and no-calorie drinks in every market in the world and put calorie counts on the front of all drinks it sells globally in the latest steps to counter criticism that links sugary drinks to obesity.

It says it will stop marketing to children under 12 worldwide and will work to encourage more physical activity programmes in every country it operates.

Coca-Cola and other makers of sugary drinks have been under fire across the globe for their ties to higher obesity rates.

The company already offers Diet Coke and low-calorie drinks broadly across the world but in some markets those offerings are not found consistently.

In the US, about 41% of its sales are no-calorie versions such as Diet Coke or Coke Zero, up from around 30% in the late 1990s.

By comparison, in some coastal cities in China, the percentage of no-calorie cola sales is in the single digits.

Chairman and chief executive Muhtar Kent says: “The key here is to ensure that in every market where we operate to have no- or low-calorie beverages of our main brands available in the marketplace, distributed and merchandised in outlets.

"We do not have that consistently today.”

Coca-Cola also already posts calorie counts on the front of packages in the US and other markets but now plans to expand that to the more than 200 countries in which it operates.

On the marketing front, Coca-Cola plans to only advertise to audiences where no more than 35% of viewers are children, similar to what it does in the US.

Comments and questions

Wow, you mean we should really believe this corporate spin? So, Coke have realised that advertising spend on under-age consumers doesn't generate a sufficient return, so they spin it as doing a social service.

Great analysis NBR. Way to go!

Hamish, weren't you arguing last week that as a social service Coke should stop advertising during children's programming? Now they are and you're bagging them!

Would be nice to have reduced sugar Coke without the artificial sweeteners. I am always adding lots of ice to regular Coke to try to dilute the sugar.

Interesting, I add Whisky to ice to dilute the ice :-)