Goodbye Coke Zero, hello Coca-Cola No Sugar

New Coca-Cola South Pacific president Roberto Mercade says free samples of Coca-Cola No Sugar will be distributed to two million Australians. Photo: Cole Bennetts
New Coca-Cola South Pacific president Roberto Mercade says free samples of Coca-Cola No Sugar will be distributed to two million Australians. Photo: Cole Bennetts

Say goodbye to Coke Zero, and say hello to Coca-Cola No Sugar. With soft drinks on the nose due to concerns they contain too much sugar, Coca-Cola is making its sugar-free options clearer.

Coke has two sugar-free drinks: Diet Coke (which was launched in 1982) and Coke Zero (which was launched in 2006).

With next week's launch of Coca-Cola No Sugar, it will have three.

But not for long. Roberto Mercade, president of Coca-Cola in Australia, said Coke Zero would be retired, after the US soft drink giant found just one in two drinkers knew the product was free of sugar.

"We will let consumers determine that," Mr Mercade said of when Coke Zero would disappear.

Coke Zero has been nicknamed "Bloke Coke" and Diet Coke has traditionally been associated with women.

Free samples

Mr Mercade said Coca-Cola No Sugar would be "widely consumed", with plans to distribute free samples to two million Australians at places such as the MCG and encouraging people to download vouchers through popular music app Shazam.

"We market our products to consumers above 12 years of age," Mr Mercade said. "Between 18 to 49 are usually the core target of this category."

Coca Cola says one in two consumers don't realise there is zero sugar in Coke Zero. Photo: Jasper Juinen

Coca Cola says one in two consumers don't realise there is zero sugar in Coke Zero. Photo: Jasper Juinen

Australia is one of the first countries chosen for the launch of Coca-Cola No Sugar, which was five years in the making and is being promoted as the sugar-free soft drink that is closest in taste to Coke proper.

The original Coke accounts for 70 per cent of overall Coke sales and Mr Mercade said the biggest barrier for a Coke drinker switching to a low-calorie option was "taste, hands down".

The proportion of the population consuming sugar sweetened beverages in Australia is declining with people switching to low or no-kilojoule varieties, industry body the Australian Beverages Council said.

Reduced intake

Questioned whether the decline in soft drink sales was structural or cyclical, Mr Mercade said people wanted to "reduce their sugar intake in some instances but they also don't want to sacrifice taste".

Market research firm IRI declared this week "sugar is the new fat – the 'dietary villain'."

Reducing sugar intake was Australians' third highest food priority, behind eating more fresh fruit and vegetables and smaller portion sizes.

IRI also said that sugar sales had fallen in value by 5.1 per cent, and sugar substitute sales were down in value by 7.2 per cent to early April.

IRI has developed a picture of supermarket sales through the scan data of Woolworths, Coles and independent supermarkets supplied by wholesaler Metcash, and its inhouse Shopper Panel consisting of 10,000 people.

Investors hammered locally listed Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) in April in the wake of an earnings downgrade triggered by soft local sales.

Coca-Cola Amatil shares were trading at $9.10 –a fresh low for the year – on Thursday afternoon having traded as high at $10.82 prior to the earnings downgrade.

 – The Age