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Coke to phase out Vanilla Coke in US

By Anupama Chandrasekaran
Fri Nov 4, 5:52 PM ET

Coca-Cola Co., the world's largest soft drink maker, said on Friday it would phase out its Vanilla Coke, Vanilla Diet Coke and Diet Coke With Lemon beverages in the United States by end of this year.

Coca-Cola shares were down 1.1 percent in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The announcement came a day after Coca-Cola said it would phase out Vanilla Coke and Vanilla Diet Coke in the United Kingdom early next year. The company said sales have declined.

Coca-Cola added that it plans to introduce Diet Black Cherry Vanilla Coke and Black Cherry Vanilla Coke in the United States in January 2006.

The company said Vanilla Coke, which was introduced in the United States in 2002 and Diet Vanilla Coke in 2003, could return sometime in the future. Details about whether Diet Coke With Lemon, which made its U.S. entry in 2001, would be brought back were not available.

"I don't know if we have ever taken out a flavor and brought it back to the market, but the landscape continues to change and we want to be as flexible as possible to adapt to the changing landscape," said Scott Williamson, a spokesperson for Coca-Cola.

The phase out follows declining sales for the brands in the United States. Vanilla Coke sales slipped to 35 million unit cases in 2004 from 90 million unit cases in 2002, while Vanilla Diet Coke sales dropped to 13 million unit cases last year from 23 million unit cases in 2003, according to Beverage Marketing, a beverage research and consulting firm.

Sales of Diet Coke with Lemon have fallen to 9.9 million unit cases in 2004 from 24 million unit cases in 2001, data showed.

Analysts have said that one of the keys to the company's future is to innovate new products that will help Coca-Cola capture more consumers who have moved away from sugary soft drinks to diet versions, or to healthier low-or no-calorie beverages such as water and orange juices with reduced sugar.

Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo Inc., the No. 2 soft drink company, are battling for the allegiance of increasingly picky U.S. consumers. The United States is the largest market for the soft-drink companies.

"It is a rapidly changing beverage landscape and it is important for Coke to move quickly to deliver on what the consumer wants," said Gary Hemphill, managing director of Beverage Marketing. "The competition for shelf space is intense."

Shares of Dow Component Coca-Cola were down 44 cents at $42.15 on the NYSE.

Posted on November 9, 2005 in News | Link To This Entry | Comments (4)


Posted by: Betty Travis on December 18, 2005 5:39 PM

I love diet vanilla coke. I think it is a good product. I dont believe the sales on it are down, I live in punta gorda, fl. and when they have a sale on coke the stores have a hard time keeping up with the demand of diet vanilla coke. If you are going to phase it out, you could at least keep the liter bottles of it out for some sellection. a very loyal customer. I even have a coke polar bear tattoo. coke christmas tree. I have been collecting coke fro ten years. I know one person will not make a difference, but I just wanted to voice my opinion. Thankyou. Betty Travis


Posted by: Janet Starr Hull, PhD on December 21, 2005 11:00 AM

You are absolutely correct. You have the right to use these diet products as long as you are aware of the dangers. If you start developing health symptoms because of your consumption of diet colas, then you will know to stop.

If you are aware of the dangers of artificial sweeteners and still decide to consume diet products, then you have accepted the responsibility of harming your own health. That is your right.

My main complaint in the diet sweetener issue in America is that the truth about the dangers of diet sweeteners is NOT mainstream, public information. People need this information in order to make a choice about what is best for them.


Posted by: Dr. Elizabeth Tucker, PhD on January 15, 2006 7:23 PM

It is a disgrace that these products are on the market. Look up Two woman started a new company stating that they wanted everyone to drink more water to be healthy. How in the world can they say this when they are using Sucralose in the product to sweeten the water? Johnson & Johnson is one of the largest companies in the world. They claim to be a "family" company with products for everyone in the family. They are selling DEATH with some of their product line but because of greed, they just don't care! SHAME ON THEM!


Posted by: Kris Cundiff on January 17, 2006 7:44 PM

I have to say that I'm really dissapointed in hearing that Diet Vanilla Coke is being taken off the market. It's the only soft drink that I will drink, and the only one that has a good taste to it. Being a diabetic, I use Splenda everyday in other products and am not concerened about it. I really don't have much of a choice when it comes to diet products, and feel that Splenda is probably the most safe on the market at this time. I really hope that Diet Vanilla Coke will be brought back onto the market. Until then I will buy as much of it as I can. Thanks for listening, Kris Cundiff


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