In an effort to appease critics who blame soft drinks for fueling obesity rates, and to address the growing public awareness of the link between soft drinks and obesity, Coca-Cola says it will make lower-calorie drinks and clear nutrition information more widely available around the world.
Coca-Cola plans to have cans and bottles around the world display calories counts on the front of the label, as it does in the United States. And Coke also says it will stop advertising to children under 12 anywhere in the world.
But the company didn’t provide a timeline.
Coke’s campaign vaunts its wide range of lower-calorie offerings. But Coca-Cola also unrealistically defends its full-calorie drinks by subtlety shifting the blame to consumers, suggesting that physical activity plays an important role in fighting obesity.
“There is a place for all of our beverages in a healthy lifestyle,” CEO Muhtar Kent said.
Diet sodas now account for nearly a third of Coca-Cola’s sales in the U.S. and Canada. And the growth in Coca-Cola’s soda business over the past 15 years has been exclusively derived from low and no-calorie drinks, such as Coke Zero.
Some estimate that diet drinks now account for 41 percent of sales for the flagship Coke brand.
Coca-Cola plans to exploit developing markets, where middle-class populations are growing rapidly, and where diet options aren’t nearly as popular.
As more people head to cities and earn more money, they’re more prone to consume processed foods and sugary beverages linked to obesity.
Coca-Cola notes Americans on average drink 403 servings of its various beverages a year, compared to just 12 servings per year in India and 38 in China.
In January, Coca-Cola began airing two minute ads in the U.S. addressing obesity; the ad has also begun airing in other countries.
Last summer, Bolivia’s Minister of External Affairs, David Choquehuanca, announced that Coca-Cola will be expelled from the country. Choquehuanca encouraged the people of Bolivia to drink Mocochinche, a peach-flavored soft drink, as an alternative to Coca-Cola.
The culturally driven boycott against American companies forced McDonald’s to withdraw from the country in the early 2000s because they were unable to make a profit there.
“After 14 years in the nation and despite many campaigns and promos McDonald’s was forced to close its 8 Bolivian restaurants in the major cities of La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz de la Sierra.”