Coca-Cola sustainability efforts include focus on cutting calories

by Eric Schroeder
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ATLANTA — Nearly 25% of the Coca-Cola Co.’s global portfolio of beverages is considered a low- or no-calorie option, and nearly all of its products contain front-of-pack calorie information, the Atlanta-based company said in issuing its 2011-12 Global Sustainability Report.

“We’re working to embed sustainability-minded innovations into every aspect of our business, from sourcing ingredients to increasing beverage options to aspiring to be water neutral and recovering packages for recycling,” said Muhtar Kent, chairman and chief executive officer of Coca-Cola. “As we pursue our 2020 Vision for growth — a system-wide plan to double the size of our business over the course of this decade — we’re intensifying our efforts across the sustainability spectrum.”

Those efforts include a focus on active healthy living, and Coca-Cola in its report said it is committed to being part of workable solutions to address obesity for the health of its consumers.

“We agree with the widespread consensus that weight gain is primarily the result of energy imbalance — too many calories consumed and too few expended,” the company said. “No single food or beverage alone is responsible for people being overweight or obese. But all calories count, regardless of the source — including those in our beverages.”

In its report Coca-Cola noted it offers more than 800 options — nearly 25% of its global portfolio — that are considered low- or no-calorie options. Since 2000, average calories per serving in Coca-Cola beverages have decreased by 9% globally, the company said.

To achieve the calorie cuts while still providing sweetness, Coca-Cola said it has innovated with products made with stevia.

“We sweeten more than 30 products in 9 countries with our stevia sweetener in combination with other natural sweeteners,” the company said. “These products, as well as all of our products and ingredients around the world, meet not only regulations in the countries where they are sold, but also The Coca-Cola Co.’s rigorous safety and quality requirements.”

As an example of its innovations, Coca-Cola said it began test marketing Fanta Select and Sprite Select in several U.S. cities in mid-2012. Both products are reduced-calorie beverages sweetened with stevia and sugar.

The company also noted in the report that it has made progress in providing more variety in its packaging and in putting calorie information up front. In 2009, the company made a commitment to provide front-of-pack energy labeling on nearly all of its packages, and by the end of 2011 had achieved that goal.

“Front-of-pack information is not possible on all of our packaging, such as returnable glass bottles,” the company said. “When this is the case, we make the information available on the Nutrition Connection web site, The Coca-Cola Co. Policy on Nutrition Labeling and Nutrition Information web page and elsewhere.”

Another area in which the company has been making progress is in addressing malnutrition through its fortified products. Late last year the company launched Nurisha in Malaysia, reaching 3,500 students, Vitingo to 22,000 students in Colombia, and Minute Maid Vitingo in Ghana to 2,500 students. The products are ready-to-drink fortified juice products that address micronutrient deficiencies in schoolchildren.

“In developing these products, we drew on lessons learned from other projects aimed at reducing micronutrient malnutrition,” the company said. “We are creating a sustainable business model by forging partnerships on both the supply and demand side of the value chain.”

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