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"Coca-Cola Announces Price Freeze for U.S. and European Markets in 2022"

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Coca-Cola Announces an End to Price Hikes in Developed Markets

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo Stick to Usual Hikes in Developed Markets

Coca-Cola has decided to put an end to its two-year-long streak of raising prices on its drinks in developed markets such as the U.S. and Europe. This move comes after rival PepsiCo announced in February that it would not raise prices beyond its usual hike for beverages in the fourth quarter. Both companies have experienced strong sales growth due to higher prices, although consumer demand has weakened, though not as much as expected. In fact, Coke's prices were up by 10% in the second quarter compared to the same period last year.

Consumer Demand Shifts Towards Private Label Bottled Water and Juices

During the company's conference call, Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey revealed that customers in the U.S. and Europe are increasingly opting for private label bottled water and juices. This shift in consumer behavior has resulted in a 1% decline in U.S. unit case volume for Coke in the second quarter. Quincey noted that consumers are becoming more cost-conscious and are actively seeking value while making their purchases. As a result, the company plans to continue raising prices in line with inflation in developing markets like Latin America.

PepsiCo Faces Steeper Declines in Demand

While Coke has managed to avoid significant declines in demand, its rival PepsiCo has experienced even steeper declines. In the second quarter, PepsiCo's North American beverage volume dropped by 4.5%, while its Quaker Foods North America unit saw a 5% volume decrease. The only bright spot for PepsiCo was Frito-Lay North America, which reported a 1% volume growth due to consumers' continued snack habits.

Investor Reactions to Coca-Cola's Decision

Despite announcing an increase in its full-year outlook and reporting earnings and revenue that exceeded Wall Street's estimates, Coca-Cola's shares fell by less than 1% in morning trading. This suggests that investors may have concerns about the company's decision to halt price hikes in developed markets. However, only time will tell how this decision will impact Coca-Cola's future performance.

Conclusion: Implications for New Business in the Beverage Industry

The recent announcement by Coca-Cola to end price hikes in developed markets, coupled with the challenges faced by its rival PepsiCo, presents both opportunities and challenges for new business ventures in the beverage industry. On the one hand, the shift in consumer demand towards private label bottled water and juices indicates a growing preference for more affordable and value-driven options. This trend opens up a potential market niche for new businesses to offer cost-effective, high-quality alternatives to established brands. By focusing on providing value and meeting the cost-consciousness of consumers, new businesses could seize this opportunity to capture market share and compete with industry giants. Additionally, the ongoing weakening demand for sugary beverages highlights an emerging consumer preference for healthier options. New businesses that specialize in innovative, low-calorie and natural alternatives could cater to this evolving consumer trend and carve out a unique position in the market. However, the cautious investor reaction to Coca-Cola's decision to halt price hikes suggests apprehension about the impact on the company's future performance. This cautionary stance may also extend to new businesses within the industry, as investors remain uncertain about the direction of the market and consumer behavior. In conclusion, new businesses entering the beverage industry should carefully consider the shifting consumer demands and market dynamics indicated by recent developments. By capitalizing on the growing interest in affordable, value-driven options and health-conscious beverages, new ventures have the potential to thrive in this evolving landscape. Nevertheless, they must also be cautious and navigate with adaptability to meet changing market conditions. Article First Published at: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/07/26/coca-cola-says-its-done-raising-prices-in-us-europe-this-year.html

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