Coke is also encountering a seismic shift in consumer preferences — of the sort that is challenging the newspaper business and hamstringing automakers. Worried about their health and lured by new drinks, Americans are reaching for bottled water, sports drinks, green teas and juice instead of soda. The decline in soft-drink sales isn’t just for full-calorie sodas like Coca-Cola Classic, with about 10 teaspoons of sugar per 12-ounce can. Sales of diet soda are declining too, in part because artificial sweeteners make some consumers nervous.
The problem is so serious that Coke executives no longer refer to soda as just plain “soda.” “Soft drink,” “pop” and “carbonated beverage,” are also verboten. Instead, the favored term in Atlanta these days is “sparkling beverage.”