Sainsburys Meal Deal

Photo courtesy of Twitter user Donnie Maclean

Sainsbury’s has ditched Classic Coke from its £3 meal deals, blaming price rises in the wake of the sugar levy.

It dropped 500ml bottles of the drink from the promotion last week, alerting shoppers to the change with shelf talkers stressing 500ml bottles of Diet Coke and Coke Zero Sugar would still be eligible.

A spokeswoman for the retailer tweeted that, following the introduction of the levy, the price of Coca-Cola had risen, meaning Sainsbury’s was ‘unable to offer it as part of our meal deal’. It was still possible to buy a 250ml can of Classic and sandwich and snack for under £3, she added - less than the price of the meal deal.

However, the move has prompted criticism on social media from shoppers who argued Sainsbury’s should have simply put the price up, and that it inconvenienced shoppers who did not want to drink variants made with sweeteners.

Similar anger was directed at Tesco’s move to offer 375ml bottles of Classic Coke with its £3 meal deals earlier this month, downsizing from the 500ml bottles it had previously offered with no change to the promotional price.

Tesco warned the tax meant branded drinks may be more expensive or come in a smaller serving size, and stressed it had reformulated all of its own-label soft drinks in line with the tax - as had Morrisons and Asda.

The Grocer revealed last week supermarket soft drinks prices had surged in the wake of the levy coming in, pushing supermarket prices for carbonates and energy drinks an average of 10% higher than the same week last year [Brand View 52 w/e 11 April 2018].

Cans of Classic Coke were 10% more expensive on average, despite Coke’s move to downsize SKUs to keep costs down. It has also replaced 1.75-litre and 1.25-litre bottles with 1.5-litre and one-litre versions respectively.

CCEP declined to comment on Sainsbury’s decision to take Classic Coke out of its meal deal, though a spokeswoman previously said it was “passing on the tax” and “did expect to see the price of Coca-Cola Classic rise in stores”, adding all pricing was at retailers’ discretion.

“The government, policymakers and health experts have made it clear that they expect to see a price difference between products that contain sugar and those that have a low or zero-sugar content.”