WASHINGTON, July 27, 2017 — Coca-Cola Corporation has announced they are yanking Coke Zero from the shelves, replacing the popular diet drink with new diet soft drink, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar. Global sales of the new formula, not yet on U.S. shelves, have been strong.
Coke Zero was the No. 10 soda brand in America last year. But unlike its predecessor, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar supposedly tastes more like original Coke.
Coca-Cola Zero Sugar will get fresh packaging featuring more of classic Coca-Cola’s trademark red wrapping, with a splash of black to reflect Coke Zero’s previous look.
The new drink is currently available in more than 25 foreign markets and will hit U.S. shelves in August. After Coca-Cola Zero Sugar arrives in the U.S., the company will phase out Coke Zero.
Before introducing it abroad, Coca-Cola spent over a year testing its new product, and came away with a product that offers a taste similar to that of a regular Coca-Cola, but with zero sugar and zero calories.
The company’s rebranding effort comes as the industry attempts to attract sugar- and high-fructose-corn-syrup-averse consumers back to what are being defined as “healthier” soda beverages. According to Beverage Digest, American soft drink sales fell to a 30-year low in 2016.
Coca-Cola competitor PepsiCo is already at work on new beverages that boast 100 or fewer calories, with the goal of two-thirds of its single-serving drinks having 100 or fewer calories by 2025.
Coca-Cola executives say they made their decision as a way to better communicate to consumers that their new version of Coke contains no sugars. Coke Zero was launched in 2006, alongside Diet Coke but profits have been declining for the brand in recent years.
Coke is working to cut sugar in many of its beverage offerings as countries and cities consider taxing high-calorie drinks. The company claims it will cut consumption of these beverages, helping to fight growing rates of obesity and diabetes.
However, in Philadelphia, where this controversial tax has already been imposed, many consumers have gone outside the city’s jurisdiction to purchase their favorite soda drinks, thwarting the city’s tax to a great extent. Many claim it is just another revenue raising excuse, a charge the city has been unable to refute.
With regard to the soon-to-be-incoming Coca-Cola Zero Sugar brand, many American consumers – in particular, Coke Zero fans – are not open to the change. They have taken to social media to air their hostility toward the switch, recalling the “New Coke” debacle of 1985. In that consumer kerfuffle, Coca-Cola reformulated its original while effectively still selling it as Coke. Most of its consumers hated the switch, and sales of the line tanked. “Old Coke” was eventually brought back and “New Coke” faded from existence around 1992.
Coca-Cola is currently facing a lawsuit funded in part by the left-wing Praxis Project and fronted by several Washington, D.C.-area ministers. The suit claims that the company conspired to “deceive consumers by denying and obscuring soda’s link to those diseases.”