Main areas of strength
• The company recognizes that it has a role to play in addressing obesity and has adopted a new global strategy in 2017, the ‘Way Forward’, which includes a focus on sugar reduction and applies to the United States.
• The company makes a broad set of responsible marketing commitments covering its marketing activities to children and other consumers. Similar to its global commitment, it demonstrates strong performance by not marketing any products to children under 12. It also pledges to follow the two main sets of industry self-regulation commitments by being a Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) member and supporting the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) Guidelines, administered by the U.S. Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB).
• Coca-Cola has implemented an employee health and wellbeing program that integrates aspects of healthy diets and physical activity, available to all U.S. employees. In addition, it commits to assist breastfeeding mothers by providing parental leave arrangements and other facilities.
• Coca-Cola commits to providing nutrition information through the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) Facts Up Front system on Front-Of-Pack (FOP) and SmartLabel online system in the United States, although the latter was not yet fully implemented in 2017.
Priority areas for improvement
• Coca-Cola ranks joint seventh on the U.S. Index Corporate Profile with a score of 1.9 out of 10 and is tied for eighth on the Product Profile with a score of 3.4 out of 10.
• The company was estimated in its Product Profile to generate 6% of 2016 sales from healthy products (having a Health Star Rating (HSR) of 3.5 or more) and 19% from products that meet World Health Organization (WHO) Euro criteria for marketing to children. The company does not disclose the percentage of healthy products in the U.S. market. It should improve its transparency in this area and step up its product reformulation, new product development and/or make acquisitions to improve the healthiness of its U.S. product portfolio.
• The company’s nutrition strategy in the United States is limited and could be strengthened by defining more nutrition objectives. For example, those related to the affordability and accessibility of healthy products, supporting public health and nutrition programs and stakeholder engagement. Further, it could be improved by referencing U.S. priority populations explicitly in its strategic focus on nutrition and health, disclosing how it intends to reach these populations with healthy products and/or how it intends to address issues of food insecurity. The company should start reporting formally and regularly on its approach and progress to tackling nutrition issues in the United States.
• Coca-Cola has not defined a comprehensive set of product reformulation targets. It should urgently do so, defining both ‘positive’ and ‘negative nutrient’ targets.
• Coca-Cola has not implemented a Nutrient Profiling System (NPS), nor has it defined nutritional criteria for healthy products. The company should do so to have a clear basis for its nutritional strategy to make its portfolio healthier.
• Coca-Cola could improve its policy on marketing to children by by lowering its audience threshold to <25% and by extending its commitments to middle and high schools and to other places popular with children. Further, to address concerns about ‘copy-cat’ products, Coca-Cola should ensure that all products sold under the Smart Snacks in School regulation meet the same nutrition standards everywhere, including those products that are sold through other channels with a similar ‘look and feel’.