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just On Call - Coca-Cola Co CEO brands critics "wrong" over growth

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The Coca-Cola Co's CEO has hit back at critics who claim the company's growth story is over, saying the climate is ripe with opportunity.

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In a conference call with analysts after the release of Coca-Cola's latest results, Muhtar Kent said low consumption rates in Africa and Asia show there is ample room for sales and volumes increases. “We believe the critics, whoever they are, are wrong,” Kent said today (15 October).

“I don't understand that sentiment. We're growing while others are not. And our portfolio is built for times like these, so we see it as a time of opportunity.”

Kent was responding to an analyst who cited declines in diet soft drinks in developed markets, “irrational pricing” and stalled growth in Mexico and the US as reasons for concern over Coca-Cola's long-term health.

According to Nielsen figures, unit sales of diet and low-calorie soft drinks in the US fell by 6.9% for the four-week period to 3 August, versus the same period last year. 

But despite admitting to “some headwinds in emerging markets”, Kent said a boom in middle class consumers around the world will carry Coca-Cola forward. 

“The whole demographic, the whole story of 1bn new middle class by 2020 still holds very strong in our opinion,” he said. “We believe we can continue to generate very healthy growth.”

In today's year-to-date results, Coca-Cola saw volumes rise but profits continue to fall after a tough H1 hampered by bad weather. Third-quarter results were better, with sales still down but net profits up by 6%. 

To access all just-drinks articles on Coca-Cola's Q3 & YTD results, click here.


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