Muhtar Kent, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The
The Roosevelt Hotel, New York City
May 14, 2012
Remarks as prepared.
Thank you, Alison, and thank you all so much for your welcome.
I'm honored to speak with a group of people who share so enthusiastically my belief in the power of business to change this world--our world--for the better.
Not in theory.
Not in the distant future.
But right now.
Each and every day.
Doing something extraordinary in the ordinary course of doing business.
And I applaud and encourage you in that.
Given the scale and complexity of today's health issues, it's challenging for one business or even one industry to make a material difference on its own.
Instead, we must rely on partnerships that connect across what I call the Golden Triangle of business, government and civil society.
Indeed, more and more companies are finding that we have something more valuable than our dollars or yen or euros to contribute.
And that's our expertise. Our know-how. Our unique and specific strengths.
And you are at the forefront of this movement.
For Coca-Cola, this means fully leveraging, for the public good, our expertise in, among other things, marketing and distribution.
Last Tuesday, Coca-Cola turned 126 years young.
And, from the start, our company was known for innovation in marketing and advertising.
Today, we stand on the shoulders of generations of promotion giants.
Coca-Cola is also known for its global ubiquity.
In fact, for years, people have been wondering: If Coca-Cola can reach the world's most remote corners, could they help others do the same?
The short answer is yes.
Today, I want to share some of what we're doing--with our partners--to address health challenges including obesity, under-nutrition and disease.
And I do so not to puff up Coca-Cola but to explain our particular approach to creating shared value and leveraging Golden Triangle partnerships.
At The Coca-Cola Company, we know our business can only be as strong and sustainable and healthy as the communities we serve.
Our wellbeing, as a business, is wholly interwoven with the wellbeing of our people, partners and communities.
Today, one of the most profound threats to that wellbeing is over-nutrition.
Obesity, as you know, is a serious and complex global health concern.
It's costly in monetary and human terms. And it has the power to undermine the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities.
Increases in global prosperity and food production are making more food more readily available to more people than ever.
To maintain a healthy weight, energy balance is critical--balancing calories in with calories out.
And, in general, people are moving a lot less these days.
Even as no single food or beverage is responsible for obesity, we understand that all calories count, and we're committed to being part of the solution.
To this end, we're using evidence-based science to guide the choices we offer and how we inform consumers about those choices.
In fact, over the next five years, we're investing more than $50 million dollars in this research.
We're also investing in innovation across sweeteners, products, packaging, equipment and marketing that fosters active, healthy living.
One key priority, as you might imagine, is further developing natural, non-caloric sweeteners.
Already, we use stevia sweeteners in more than 30 products, including vitaminwater zero.
As of two months ago in France, we're now using our stevia sweetener to replace 30 percent of the calories in Sprite while maintaining the delicious, refreshing flavor.
And we're launching a limited test here in the U.S., just reported this morning, of two new mid-calorie sparkling beverages using a natural sweetener blend--Fanta Select and Sprite Select.
Choice is another way we're helping consumers avoid over-nutrition.
Today, we offer more than 500 brands and 3500 beverages.
That's three times as many choices as a decade ago and ten times as many as 20 years ago.
Nearly 25 percent of our beverages--more than 800--are low or no-calorie. And 19 of our top 20 brands either offer a low- or no-calorie alternative or are themselves low- or no-calorie.
Moreover, we stand behind the quality and goodness of every single product we make, starting with the original formula of Coca-Cola.
Now, however, we offer 23 variations of Coke... a Coke for every person, every lifestyle and every occasion: Coke, diet Coke, Coke Zero, caffeine-free versions and flavors like Cherry Coke.
Nothing better shows our commitment to choice than Coca-Cola Freestyle--a new fountain capable of dispensing more than 100 of our beverages, including sparkling drinks, waters, sports drinks and lemonades.
Coca-Cola Freestyle features 70-plus low or no-calorie options, more than 90 caffeine-free choices and 80-plus brands not available anywhere else.
And, if that's not enough choice, you can create your own combinations of our drinks.
If you're thirsty later, there are nine Coca-Cola Freestyle locations inside a mile from here, with the closest just three blocks down Madison at the McDonald's at 18 East 42nd Street.
What can I say? I looked it up on the Coca-Cola Freestyle Facebook page!
We're also innovating with packaging choices.
In Sao Paulo, for example, we have 17 different packages of Coca-Cola alone.
Our fans in the U.S., Australia, Korea and beyond really like our mini-can, which debuted in 2009.
At 7.5 ounces, the Coca-Cola mini-can offers delicious refreshment along with portion control and just 90 calories.
To help consumers make informed choices, we're leading with transparency in communicating calories.
We provide clear, detailed nutrition information.
Leading our industry, we became, in 2009, the first beverage company to make a global commitment to front-of-pack labeling on nearly all our products by year-end 2011. And we've followed through.
In addition, we're committed to responsible marketing.
This means not directly marketing to children under 12 and following a global set of school beverage guidelines.
In primary schools, our products are not available, unless requested by parents, caregivers or school authorities.
In secondary schools, we offer school authorities the choice of waters, juices and other beverages, including regular and low-calorie options of Coca-Cola and all our beverages.
Coca-Cola also promotes active, healthy living among our associates, fans and communities.
We now have 43 such programs in North America... 40 in Latin America... 71 in Europe... 79 in Eurasia and Africa... and 18 across our Pacific group.
By 2015, we'll have active healthy living programs in every country--200-plus--where we operate.
Our programs include StreetGames, which uses sports to encourage positive behavior among teens in disadvantaged communities across Great Britain.
Over three years, we hope to reach 110,000 young people.
Coca-Cola is also a founding partner of Exercise is Medicine, a global drive to urge doctors to encourage patients to exercise.
Along with the Philippines Basketball Association, we sponsor Coca-Cola PBA Youngstars--a grassroots basketball program that shows Filipino teens just what we mean by active, healthy living.
Coca-Cola also believes in the power of premier sporting events to inspire active, healthy living, which is one reason for our longstanding partnerships with the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games.
For the 2012 London Games--which begin in just 87 days--we're encouraging young people to live active, healthy lives with a campaign that artfully blends music and sport called "Move to the Beat."
Take a look:
I don't know about you, but that makes me want to get active--and I'm not exactly in the intended demographic!
We also use our beverage expertise to help with under-nutrition.
For us, this dates to the 1960s, when Coca-Cola worked to bridge the "protein gap" in impoverished nations with three protein-rich beverages.
Today, we're ramping up products with vitamins, minerals and other beneficial ingredients.
These include Del Valle Fresh--a fruit drink with calcium and vitamin D in Colombia... and Nutrijuice--which is helping kids overcome iron deficiencies in the Philippines.
With Project Thrive, Coca-Cola is developing a global fortified juice product to give schoolchildren needed vitamins and minerals.
We're partnering with government, nutrition experts, and organizations like the World Food Program and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation to get this beverage into school lunch programs, together with nutrition and physical activity education.
Globally, our partners include Cutrale, DSM, TetraPak and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, an NGO related to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Late last year, we launched three pilots in Malaysia, Ghana and Colombia, and we're continuing the work this year.
Of course, our concern for health and wellbeing extends beyond obesity and undernourishment.
Since 2006, The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation has been involved in NetsforLife--a Golden Triangle partnership battling malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.
To date, NetsforLife has distributed 8.5 million nets, saved the lives of more than 100,000 children, and trained nearly 74,000 malaria control agents.
AIDS, of course, is one of the great health scourges of our time.
Building on an existing partnership with The Global Fund, we joined with (RED) late last year to raise money and awareness in the fight against AIDS with our music platforms and other resources.
And the tide is turning, with the chance to achieve the first AIDS-free generation of our time by virtually eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission by 2015.
The Coca-Cola system is also working with The Global Fund, the Gates Foundation and the Yale Health Leadership Institute to increase access to vital medicines in Tanzania.
Using our supply chain expertise, we've joined with Tanzania's Medical Stores Department to develop a new distribution strategy, redesign core processes, and train more than 50 medical stores staffers.
To me, this is a very exciting Golden Triangle initiative--one revealing the vast, largely untapped potential of business, government and NGOs to collaborate creatively together.
Even now, we're working with our partners to replicate what's happening in Tanzania in Ghana, which has an acute need for vaccine distribution. In March, we launched a 15-week assessment phase in Ghana.
Around the world, we've seen firsthand the positive impact women's economic empowerment has on the health and wellbeing of families.
In fact, we're striving to enable the empowerment of 5 million women entrepreneurs worldwide by 2020.
With this effort, called 5 BY 20, we expect to reach 300,000 women by the end of this year, as we test, learn and scale what works with our partners.
And our partners in 5 BY 20 will be critical to our success, including--very prominently--Michelle Bachelet of UN Women, who you heard from earlier.
Water is another focus for us--and one closely related to health and women's empowerment.
By 2020, we're committed to "giving back" 100 percent of the water used in bottling our beverages.
Already, we've conducted 386 community water projects in 94 countries since 2005.
These projects not only have a powerful direct health impact but they also empower women, given the time many women must spend carrying water -- particularly in parts of Africa.
Our worldwide Coca-Cola system is also honored to contribute to the health and wellbeing of communities in their most-desperate hours.
I'm speaking now of disaster relief, and we've formed an important Golden Triangle partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies.
Building on nearly a century of cooperation, we're now able to do more good for more people more quickly than ever before.
So, as you can see, there are many reasons to be optimistic.
And what you're doing, each and every day, is critically important as you advance the health of your employees, your communities and the broader world beyond.
In fact, I believe we're just beginning to harness the power of business to improve global health.
Even over these two days, new Golden Triangle collaborations are coming to life thanks to the convening power of GBCHealth.
In this audience, I see business, government and civil society leaders all working to improve global health.
Progress is happening right here, thanks to you and GBCHealth. And you can all be proud.
Today is the 216th anniversary of Edward Jenner's first smallpox vaccination--a day that changed history for the better and for all time.
In our world, the next step-change of this magnitude could happen any month, any week, any day.
And you may very well help make it happen.
So keep pushing forward...
Keep leading the way...
Keep building momentum toward the health breakthroughs the world is so eager to see.
Thank you very much!