Say goodbye to Coke Zero and hello to Coca-Cola Zero Sugar. Coca-Cola announced on July 26 that it is replacing Coke Zero with a new drink that still has zero sugar and zero calories.
The new drink is expected to be in U.S. stores by next month and features a new recipe. The drink has actually been available in some international markets since last year, but is just now reaching this country.
Here’s what you need to know about the new drink, which the Atlanta-based company says still takes like regular Coke.
1. Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Still Has No Sugar or Calories, but Is a New Recipe
In June, Coke issued a statement explaining the differences between Coke Zero and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar. The company said they believe they have created a new recipe that tastes “even closer to the taste of Coca-Cola Classic/Original Taste.”
“This is a new and improved recipe. The ingredients are the same but the taste is closer to Coca-Cola Classic, without the sugar,” the company said last month. The drink still has zeo calories and zero sugar.
On July 26, Coke announced that Coke Zero Sugar will finally be reaching the U.S. in August, 10 years after Coke Zero was introduced.
“We’re confident our new and improved Coke Zero Sugar recipe delivers a great taste that Coke Zero fans in the U.S. will love. We also hope that people who love the unforgettable taste of Coca-Cola, but want less sugar, will try it and enjoy,” Stuart Kronauge, business unit president, USA Operations and senior vice president, Marketing, Coca-Cola North America, said in a statement.
2. The Drink Is Already Available in Over 25 Countries
Coke Zero Sugar has already been available in over 25 countries since last year, including Great Britain and Mexico, Buzz Feed notes. It has been doing well overseas, Coke said.
“Volume sales of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar (including legacy recipes) have grown by double digits globally year-to-date, with the strongest growth in Europe and Latin America, regions with the broadest availability of the new recipe,” the company said in a statement. “In North America in 2016, Coca-Cola Zero was one of the top 10 U.S. sparkling brands, with 3.5 percent dollar sales growth (Beverage Digest Special Issue, June 2017).”
Coke’s report on the fiscal year 2016 showed that its net revenue was $41.9 billion, but dipped 5 percent for the full year compared to 2015.
The annual report showed that Coke Zero Sugar sales in Western Europe helped grow unit case volume in the fourth quarter of 2016. By the end of 2016, the drink was already available in the U.K., France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Ireland. Earlier this year, it was introduced in Australia, South Africa and more European markets.
Thanks to different regulations in these markets, the drink is known as “Coke No Sugar,” including in Australia.
3. Diet Coke Sales Have Been Plunging for Years
The love shown for Coke Zero and Coke Zero Sugar from the company highlights the major decrease in popularity of Diet Coke. Fortune reported that Diet Coke volume declined 4.3 percent in 2016. Diet Pepsi took an even bigger nosedive, dropping 9.2 percent.
The reason for the drop is the skepticism over artificial sweeteners. PepsiCo initially responded by dropping aspartame from its Diet Pepisi recipe, but it opted to bring it back last year.
Studies have also warned of the dangers of artificially-sweetened soft drinks. In April, CNN reported that the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke found in a new study that drinking artificially sweetened drinks are tied to higher risks of stroke and dementia. However, the researchers on that study cautioned that they could not find a direct cause-effect relationship, so it only studied the association between the conditions and soft drinks.
“We have little data on the health effects of diet drinks and this is problematic because diet drinks are popular amongst the general population,” Matthew Pase, the lead author of the study, told CNN. “More research is needed to study the health effects of diet drinks so that consumers can make informed choices concerning their health.”
4. Coke Started Changing Package Designs Outside the U.S. Last Year
The Coke Zero Sugar label design will be similar to the familiar classic Coca-Cola package. Last year, Buzzfeed reported that Coke was adding the familiar red disc to the cans of Diet Coke, Coke Zero Sugar and stevia-sweetened Coca-Cola Life (not available in the U.S.) to create a unified brand identity. The package design was launched outside of the U.S. and Coke said testing in other markets will influence the possible introduction in the U.S.
Coke said today that the new package design will be used for Coke Zero Sugar when it hits the U.S.
“These packaging changes support the company’s ‘One Brand’ strategy to bring its Coca-Cola portfolio of beverages together as a single trademark brand to show fans we have a Coca-Cola for everyone,” the company said in a statement. “The changes also support the company’s continued efforts to increase promotion of no- and low-sugar Coca-Cola options to help people looking to reduce their consumption of added sugars.”
5. Coke Zero Sugar Is Being Introduced as Taxes on Sugary Drinks Hurt Sales
Coke Zero Sugar is being introduced at a time when more states and cities in the U.S. are introducing taxes on sugary drinks that have led to a decrease in soda sales. In February 2017, Bloomberg reported that Philadelphia’s 1.5 cents-per-ounce tax that went into effect in January saw drink distributors and grocers report sales declines of as much as 50 percent.
“In 30 years of business, there’s never been a circumstance in which we’ve ever had a sales decline of any significant amount,” Jeff Brown, CEO of Brown’s Super Stores, told Bloomberg. “I would describe the impact as nothing less than devastating.” His company, which owns 12 supermarkets in Philadelphia, said revenue dropped by 15 percent in the first six weeks of the year.
Canada Dry Delaware Valley, which distributes Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Sunkist, A&W Root Beer, Arizona Iced Tea and Vita Coco in Philadelphia, saw its total revenue drop 45 percent in the first five weeks of 2017.
Since Philadelphia approved the tax, similar taxes have been approved in San Francisco; Oakland; Boulder, Colorado; and Cook County, Illinois.