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Coke CEO on Global Well-Being Commitments

By:  Muhtar Kent May 8, 2013
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Coke CEO Muhtar Kent

Today, as Coca-Cola turns 127 years young, we’re beginning the next phase of our journey to promote health and well-being by announcing four worldwide business commitments to:

1.    Offer low- and no-calorie options in every market we serve.

2.    Provide transparent product information, with calorie counts on the front of all our packages.

3.    Help get more people moving by supporting physical activity programs in all of the 200-plus countries we proudly serve.

4.    Market responsibly, including no advertising to children under 12 anywhere in the world.

As the world’s leading beverage system, we believe we have a role to play in helping solve one of the most important and complex societal issues of our time—obesity.  It’s in our DNA, really, as a system that’s always tried to make a lasting positive difference in the communities we serve.

For us, then, this is an evolution, not a revolution—an elevation, not a revelation. And this is just the next step in our ongoing journey.

Today, as we commit to providing low- and no-calorie options in every market, we’re building on a heritage of leadership in diet beverages. This includes the introduction, 50 years ago this week, of our first diet soft drink, Tab; the launch of Diet Coke 31 years ago; and a global beverage portfolio that now includes 800 diet and no-calorie options.

Indeed, 41 percent of the trademark Coke enjoyed in America today has zero calories. That’s up from 1 percent in 1982 and 32 percent in 1999.

Moreover, we’re always looking for new ways to provide greater choice to consumers, from portion control packaging like our 7.5-ounce mini-can to our Coca-Cola Freestyle fountain dispenser, which offers more than 70 low- or no-calorie options among the 100-plus beverage choices available.

In 2012, we introduced more than 100 new low- and no-calorie products worldwide. And we’re continuing to innovate in this area and expand the use of new non-caloric sweeteners like stevia.


As for front-of-pack calorie labeling, we were the first global beverage company to make this commitment in 2009, and we’re now putting calorie data on the front of nearly all our beverages worldwide.

In terms of physical activity, Coca-Cola has long been associated with sports, getting outside and enjoying nature.  For example, our Canadian affiliate produced a fitness board game called “Steps to Health” way back in 1938.  In 1960, we created a health and nutrition booklet called “Eat Right, Be on the Ball and Have Fun.”

These days, we support 280 fitness programs in 115 countries. And we’re committed to having at least one in each of our 200-plus markets.

Throughout our history, we’ve believed that moms and dads make the best drink choices for young children.

Today, we’re renewing our system commitment not to market directly to kids under 12. This means no ads on children’s TV shows, and no marketing in places where children under 12 make up more than 35 percent of the audience.

To be sure, we know we can’t do this alone. We must have partners across the Golden Triangle of business, government and civil society.

As such, we’re also announcing today a pledge of nearly $4 million from The Coca-Cola Foundation to support wonderful new partnerships with our home city and home state to help people become more active and fit in our own backyard.

We’ll support Georgia SHAPE, Governor Nathan Deal’s drive to reduce childhood obesity by increasing physical activity among schoolchildren. We will also provide new funding for Walk Georgia, which makes physical activity more engaging and fun. 

In our hometown of Atlanta, we’ll provide a $1 million grant to support the city’s Centers of Hope. Combining physical activity, leadership development, nutrition education and academic enrichment, this program will expand from two pilot locations to all 10 of Atlanta’s recreation centers.  

Will there be doubters and cynics? Sure. But we welcome everyone to come together in this important conversation.

Ultimately, I’m convinced that, together, we can make a difference, improve energy balance and build a healthier future for people across our home state and around the world.

Muhtar Kent is Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company