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Consumer fears over aspartame appear not to have crossed the Atlantic from the US, as Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) has reported that its diet portfolio is outperforming its regular range in Europe.

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In an investors conference call last week, CCE’s European president, Hubert Patricot, was asked whether markets were being affected by increasing health fears. “We don’t see that,” said Patricot. 

“If anything, the diet portfolio has outperformed the regular portfolio in the last quarter ... and they (diets) really continue to grow very fast.”

His comments came after CCE last week reported a drop in nine-month net profits, with sales flat.

Concerns around the artificial sweetener aspartame have hurt the US' diet soda market lately, with Dr Pepper Snapple Group's chief saying last week that he was "shocked" by the impactPepsiCo has also expressed concerns

Meanwhile, on the firm's future prospects in its key Western Europe markets, Patricot said CCE expects to be helped by some “GDP improvement” by next year. But, he added: “Unemployment remains pretty high in all our markets - 8% to 9% - and it does not change.” 

CCE is also keeping a close eye on Suntory’s acquisition of Lucozade and Ribena, which was announced last month. Patricot noted, however, that it is “too early to tell” what the impact will be.  


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