At Coca-Cola, we’re constantly looking at ways to improve things and provide people with a wide range of drinks that meet their needs. However, of course, those needs differ. For some nothing matters except great taste and refreshment. Then there are others who want to experiment with new drinks, some who want to taste new flavours and a growing number of people who want a refreshing soft drink with less or no sugar. Our success depends on adapting to meet these evolving needs.

However, we also know there are people who like things just as they are. Top of that list is the brand on which our business was built – the iconic, 130-year-old, Coca-Cola Classic.

So, as the recipes of many soft drinks sold in Great Britain have changed ahead of the introduction of the Government’s new tax on soft drinks on the 6th April, I wanted to let you know that we have decided not to change the recipe of Coca-Cola Classic. This means it will, unfortunately, be subject to the new tax and, while retailers must decide the prices they charge in their outlets, our prediction is that it’s very likely that the price will go up as a direct result of the new tax.

Because the tax rate is so high, on Coca-Cola Classic we will pass on the tax in full to retailers – as the Government expects manufacturers to do. On some packs, this will be done through a combination of smaller pack sizes and higher prices. For example, our 1.75L bottle will be replaced by a 1.5L bottle as a direct result of the tax. At the same time, we have decided to increase the size of the 1.75L bottles of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Diet Coke to 2L, so our zero sugar alternatives are even better value for people. We hope this will encourage more Coca-Cola drinkers to try one of our no sugar colas.

For many that love and want to enjoy Coca-Cola Classic, I’m sure this is mixed news. However, we have made the decision based on the views of the people who enjoy the drink. We believe that if Coca-Cola Classic is the drink you prefer you should be able to choose one. And as many of you know, if you want the great taste of Coke but without any sugar, there is Coca-Cola Zero Sugar – which many of you are trying. 

There are other brands in our portfolio that we have decided to change the recipe of to lower their sugar content. Many of these brands, including Fanta, Sprite, Dr Pepper, Lilt and Oasis, we reformulated before the new tax was announced, so the changes we have made to the recipes this time are modest. Unlike many brands, we have not had to more than halve the sugar content in one giant leap. I am encouraged that, based on the tests we have done with many people, they all still taste great. 

It is important to us that we strike the right balance between helping people to reduce the sugar they consume from our drinks and still offering them choice, great taste and the drinks they actually want. We think we have succeeded – changing recipes without compromising on taste where possible, leaving Coca-Cola Classic as it always has been and continuing to offer people an even wider range of lower and no sugar drinks. As a result, by the time the tax comes into effect, the vast majority of our drinks will not be subject to it.

I still believe the Government’s new tax on a very small number of products that contain sugar will not reduce obesity rates – which is its stated objective. The fact is that as the sugar we consume from soft drinks has declined rapidly over the last decade, obesity rates have continued to rise. But the reality we face is that the tax is happening, we have to respond to it as a business and I wanted to make you aware of the changes that will result.  

As a company, we will continue to listen and respond to consumers and expand into new categories to offer people an even wider choice of drinks. In 2018, for the first time ever in Great Britain, we will launch three brand new products in one year: Fuzetea, an iced tea drink; a ready-to-drink cold coffee called Honest Cafe; and AdeZ, a dairy-alternative smoothie. Naturally, I hope you will try one of these new drinks too!

As always, we love to hear from our consumers and would welcome comments or views.

Jon