Coke fires back at New York’s proposed ban on big sodas

Coke dominates the nation's soda fountains with a 70 percent share of the market.

Coca-Cola Co fired back at the Bloomberg administration on Thursday, saying its proposed ban of large-sized soft drinks insulted New Yorkers.

“New Yorkers expect and deserve better than this. They can make their own choices about the beverages they purchase,” Coca-Cola said in a statement.

The world’s largest soft-drink maker, which would also be disproportionately affected by such a ban, pointed out that it already includes calorie counts on the front of its bottles and cans in New York and that restaurants already post the calorie content of all their offerings and portion sizes, including soft drinks.

The statement from Coke comes a day after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was proposing an amendment to the city’s health code to prohibit food service outlets from selling sugary soft drinks larger than 16 ounces.

The ban would apply to restaurants, mobile food carts, delis and concessions at movie theaters, stadiums or arenas, where sales of fountain drinks are common. It would not apply to convenience stores, grocery stores or drug stores, which mostly sell beverages in bottles and cans.

PepsiCo declined to comment, referring questions to the New York City Beverage Association.

Coke dominates the nation’s soda fountains with a 70 percent share of the market, according to Beverage Digest, followed by PepsiCo Inc with 19 percent and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc with 11 percent.

Fountain business accounts for about 24 percent of the 9.3 billion cases of soda sold a year, Beverage Digest said. The total market is worth about $75.7 billion.

Beverage Digest publisher John Sicher called the proposal misguided. He said its impact on the beverage industry will not be known for several years.

“I think that it would have some impact, but how much, we’re really not going to know until we can gauge the impact in New York and see whether it spreads.”

The proposal will be submitted to the New York City Board of Health on June 12. The board will go through a three-month comment period and vote on the proposal.


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