The first bottles of Coca-Cola Life slipped into the trade this week - giving Coca-Cola a chance to take the fight back to Pepsi after three months of falling volumes.
In the battle of the colas, Pepsi has been making all the running so far this summer. Total sales of Pepsi brands have climbed 8.6% by volume in the three months to mid-July [IRI 12 w/e 19 July 2014].
Over the same period, during which the hot weather has been favourable to soft drinks sales, Coca-Cola brand sales have reversed, falling 6.9% by volume [IRI].
Nielsen data paints an even more downbeat picture, with Coca-Cola brand volumes falling 13.4%, 6.1% and 10.8% in the past three four-week periods to 13 July.
“[Coca-Cola Enterprises] admits that the UK has done worse than expected,” said Bernstein analyst Ali Dibadj. “The competitive landscape, coupled with the attempt by CCE to take prices up, has made volumes quite difficult.”
Unlike Pepsi, whose full-sugar product grew 8.1% in the period, CCE has struggled with its full sugar red Coca-Cola [IRI]. Volumes have slumped by 11%, whereas Diet Coke is down 1.8% and Coca-Cola Zero 2.1%.
CCE will be hoping the re-launch of its Share a Coke campaign, which kicked off in earnest last month, will be the catalyst for a return to form.
The bottler also has high hopes for Coca-Cola Life - which is sweetened with sugar and calorie-free sweetener stevia.
Coca-Cola Life went into Asda this week and will be rolled out across the trade next week.
Containing a third of the sugar of red Coca-Cola, CCE said the launch was its biggest this year. “We will continue to drive momentum in the second half of this year and work with our customers to drive the Cola sector with our biggest soft drinks launch of the year, Coca-Cola Life,” said a CCE spokeswoman.
CCE also said it would build on the success of January’s ‘Just Add Zero’ push, with new on-pack graphics in the autumn. There is also activity planned for its slimline 250ml product.