Retailer Refuses to Stock New Coca-Cola

'Our customers ... have ample choice already'

BELLA VISTA, Australia -- A new zero-calorie Coca-Cola launched in Australia last month with great fanfare and promises that it would one day replace Coke Zero. "[Coca-Cola No Sugar] is the closest we have ever come to the classic taste of Coca-Cola [without calories],” Roberto Mercade, the President of Coca-Cola in Australia, said, according to a News Corp Australia report.

One problem: At least one major retailer is refusing to stock the new drink.

Supermarket giant Woolworths, based in Bella Vista, Australia, said in a world where consumers are clamoring for bottled waters, it can't devote cooler space to another diet cola, particularly one that is the fourth iteration (Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Coke Life and now Coke No Sugar) of a brand.

“Our customers looking for a no-sugar or low-sugar cola option have ample choice already in the category across a range of different pack sizes and formats,” a spokesperson for Woolworths, which owns a 36% share of the grocery market in Australia, told News Corp.

Woolworths said it would prefer to have Coke Zero pulled from shelves at the same time the new No Sugar variety is added.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola Australia is maintaining an optimistic outlook for the new brand. “We’re entirely confident that Coca-Cola No Sugar will be a huge success,” a spokesperson said.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. did not respond to inquiries by CSP's press time. There was no word on if or when No Sugar might come to the United States.

In U.S. convenience stores, diet carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) are on a consistent decline, with unit sales down 6.4% during the 52-week period ending June 17, 2017, and down 8.7% during the most recent four-week period, according to Nielsen data. That compares to generally flat sales (down 0.2% for 52 weeks and up 0.4% for four weeks) for regular CSDs.

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