Coke dropping half its drink brands

Coca-Cola on Thursday said it is dropping half its drink brands, most of them sold outside the United States.

All told, the 200 brands slated to be discontinued account for only about 1% of the company’s profits. They consume too much attention and resources, Coke leaders said.

Meanwhile, the Atlanta-based beverage giant reported continued financial pain from the pandemic. The company’s chief executive said that’s easing, but warned “the world is in a fragile state.”

Coca-Cola previously announced eliminations of Tab, the company’s first diet soda, as well as Zico coconut water, Odwalla juices, Coca-Cola Life, Diet Coke Feisty Cherry and a few regional players, including Northern Neck Ginger Ale and Delaware Punch. They will be discontinued in coming months.

No other North American brands are expected to be phased out this year, a company spokesperson wrote in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In other nations, the company is dropping brands such as Vegitabeta in Japan and Kuat in Brazil.

The company said the moves free up resources to expand more successful brands and newer ones, including Topo Chico Hard Seltzer, Coca-Cola Energy and AHA flavored sparkling water.

Coke on Thursday reported its latest third quarter results: Revenue fell 9% and operating income was off 8% compared to the same period a year ago. But the results were better than they were in the spring, when revenue decreased 28% and income was down 34%, one of the worst quarters in the company’s 134-year history.

In the latest quarter, the case volume of beverages sold was off 4% compared to a year ago. In the spring, it was down 16%.

James Quincey, Coke’s chairman and chief executive officer, said he is encouraged by recent improvements.

But in some markets there have been a return to restrictions on businesses and gatherings. Half of the company’s global business is generated in places like restaurants and entertainment venues, spots hit by lockdowns and consumer concerns about social distancing.

In August, Coca-Cola offered voluntary separation packages to 4,000 employees in the United States and Canada — nearly 40% of its staffers in those areas. Workers in other countries faced cuts as well. Company leaders haven’t said how many total employees will leave Coca-Cola through voluntary or involuntary reductions.