Everybody knows New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed banning large cups for fountain drinks in New York City. We wondered just how much soda Americans drink vs. other places, and looked at Coca-Cola’s international sales to gauge the scale of worldwide soda consumption.
Coca-Cola sales are a good place to start — Coke is the second-most recognized word in the world behind “okay,” so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that people drink a lot of it. On average around the globe, each person drinks around 85 eight-ounce servings a year (and keep in mind, for regional data in this piece, it only includes Coca-Cola products and not those of other cola makers). For perspective, in 2010, soft drinks were one-third of global beverage sales. Hot drinks, alcohol and milk sales comprised the other two-thirds.
So where exactly does the Coke flow?
Atlanta-based Coca-Cola does best on its home turf here in America. In 2008, citizens of the United States consumed 412 eight-ounce Coca Cola products per capita, up 67 percent from the 275 we drank in 1988. That means on average Americans drink a nine-ounce mini-can every day.
Australia ranks second when it comes to Coca-Cola consumption. The average Aussie tipped back the equivalent of 324 eight-ounce drinks in 2008, up 63 percent from 1988.
Argentina came in third, with 312 servings in 2008. Next came Spain at 303 servings. For those who think of Canada as the 51st state, you’ll be surprised to find its soft drink consumption is merely sixth in the world.
Coke’s sales offer a bellwether of global events.
The end of the Cold War boosted Coca-Cola’s fortunes. In 1988, for example, Romanians didn’t drink significant amounts of Coke. By 1998, the drink appeared still to be a luxury, with only 72 eight-ounce servings consumed per person. By 2008, Romanians were drinking 223 servings a year. They’re now ranked as the seventh-biggest Coke guzzlers in the world.
Now, as the wheel of history turns, those fast-emerging BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are fast becoming Coca-Cola’s biggest markets.
In 2000, BRIC countries made up only 12 percent of Coke’s total sales. By 2010, they hit 20 percent of its total sales, and they’re expected to make up 25 percent of Coke’s global sales by 2015.
Coke might need that overseas growth. According to reports, while worldwide consumption is growing for soft drinks, the market for fountain drinks is changing for the worse in the United States, weighed down in part by the nation’s obesity crisis. Bans in schools, potential bans in large cities and ongoing advice from doctors and dentists are altering views of the beverages.
That’s one reason Coca-Cola has chosen to pursue another lucrative avenue in the soft drink marketplace: health-conscious soft drinks, like Vitamin Water.
But, remember, quitting cola may be good for you, but replacing it with an equally sugar-laden drink might be counterproductive to trimming your waistline.