Coca-Cola Co. KO 0.37% is discontinuing its Zico coconut water brand and considering axing some less-popular versions of Coke and Diet Coke as it slashes its product offerings in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision to discontinue Zico by the end of the year “comes at a time when we are hyper focused on delivering on our consumers’ wants and needs,” a Coke spokeswoman said. The company is winnowing down its brands to ones that can achieve a large scale, she said.
Products now under review include Diet Coke Feisty Cherry; Coke Life, a lower-calorie version of the cola sweetened with stevia; and regional American soda brands such as Northern Neck Ginger Ale and Delaware Punch, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The beverage company has 500 fully or partially owned brands around the world and last month said it is aiming to cut that number by more than half. The effort is part of a broader restructuring spurred by the coronavirus crisis that includes layoffs and a revamped marketing strategy. The Wall Street Journal in July reported that Coke planned to close its Odwalla juice and smoothie business.
Coke is also planning to halt retail-store sales of Hubert’s Lemonade, limiting the brand to fountain machines only, the spokeswoman said. Hubert’s is replacing Odwalla lemonade in the fountain machines that previously carried it, she said.
Sellers of soda, potato chips, motorcycles and toilet paper have temporarily narrowed their offerings since the coronavirus choked supply chains last spring. Coke and its bottling network are still making fewer varieties of drinks to meet demand for its top beverages. That has made products like Coke Life, Decaffeinated Diet Coke, Fanta and Northern Neck Ginger Ale hard to find.
Some of those choices are becoming permanent.
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