Coke taps energy market with sugar free drink

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Coca-cola

Coca-Cola has launched Sugar Free Full Throttle, a clear indication
of both the potential growth of the energy drink market and
increasing concerns over the links between soft drinks and bad
health, writes Anthony Fletcher.

There is certainly huge potential in the North American energy drinks market, and Sugar Free Full Throttle represents the next step for the Full Throttle brand.

This brand has already achieved a 7.8 percent share of the energy drink category, and is currently available in 78 percent of all convenience retail locations in the United States according to market research conducted by AC Neilsen.

However it still trails Red Bull, the market leader. In 2004, Red Bull had nearly 50 percent of the US market for energy drinks.

The success of Full Throttle is improtant for Coke. The overall market leader in the North American soft drink market suffered a decline in market share last year; apart from Diet Coke, which posted 5 percent growth, Coke's other top 10 brands also drifted downwards, according to a Beverage Digest study.

Coke is confident that diversification into the energy drinks market will see a return to form.

"The Full Throttle brand has consistently driven growth in the energy drink category since its introduction, and Sugar Free Full Throttle will keep our momentum going,"​ said Mary Herrera, director of marketing for Sports & Energy Drinks, Coca-Cola North America.

"Based on our results in test markets, we expect Sugar Free Full Throttle to increase consumption occasions among current energy drink users and appeal to new consumers seeking the raw energy Full Throttle provides."

In addition, the launch of the sugar free drink comes after growing concern that sugary soft drinks are contributing greatly to the growing obesity epidemic among children. A recent study showed that sweet drinks have overtaken white bread as the leading source of calories in the American diet, while another suggested that consuming fructose affects the metabolic rate in a way that favors fat storage.

All this has lead to greater pressure on soft drinks manufacturers to address health concerns. There has also been intense lobbying from health groups to kick out soft drinks and junk food from schools in America - 38 states considered school nutrition bills last year, most of which included a vending machine component. At least 14 laws have now been enacted.

Sugar Free Full Throttle will hit shelves nationwide later this year, primarily at local convenience stores, with additional availability in other retail locations. Sold in 16-ounce cans and four-can multi-packs, the company claims that the product will be competitively priced with other energy drinks on the market.

The product follows other new sugar free offerings from Coca-Cola including Diet Coke sweetened with the sugar substitute Splenda, a diet cola called Coke Zero and flavored versions of Coke's popular Dasani bottled water brand.

The Coca-Cola Company is the world's largest beverage company. Along with Coca-Cola, reaffirmed recently as the world's most valuable brand by various market analysts, the company markets four of the world's top five soft drink brands, including Diet Coke, Fanta and Sprite.

Related topics: Sweeteners (intense, bulk, polyols)

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