Coca-Cola Sees Brighter Days Ahead

Executives predict improved European, Asian sales as the regions emerge from the pandemic.

July 22, 2020

ATLANTA—Coca-Cola Co. views the future as bright, saying that despite the current uptick in U.S. coronavirus cases, the company’s pandemic challenges are in the past, the Wall Street Journal reports. Around half of Coke’s business is generated from away-from-home sales, such as restaurants, movie theaters and sports stadiums, which were shuttered during the spring. Revenue dropped 28% to $7.15 billion for the second quarter ended June 26.

However, Coke pointed out that Southeast Asia, Western Europe and China have done a “pretty good job in managing the worst stages of the pandemic,” with sales in those parts of the world on the upswing, said John Murphy, Coke’s CFO. “Here in the U.S., we’re seeing a spike in a number of places, but the degree of lockdown is not nearly what it was.”

As people have eaten more meals at home, Coke’s Simply orange juice and Fairlife milk brands have seen sales soar. Its well-known soda brands have also registered solid sales at grocery stores but saw a steep dive for fountain sales. Smaller brands, such as Fresca, haven’t fared as well, due to grocery stores reducing inventory in some categories.

Coke is also trimming underperforming smaller brands across the globe, CEO James Quincey said recently. More than 50% of the company’s 400 brands are single-country products. “We have not been assertive enough” in eliminating them from the portfolio, Quincey said.

Also in response to the pandemic, the company announced last week it would update its Freestyle fountain machines to let customers fill cups via their phones rather than the touchscreen feature.

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