Coke, Pepsi and the New Front in the Cola Wars

Coke, Pepsi and the New Front in the Cola Wars

In this May 8, 2013 file photo, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent speaks during a news conference in Atlanta. Coca-Cola is revising its pay plan for executives after shareholders including Warren Buffett expressed disapproval and called it excessive. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
In this May 8, 2013 file photo, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent speaks during a news conference in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

 

(CBS News) – When most people think about rivalries in the carbonated beverage industry, they think of the “cola wars,” the never-ending battle for market supremacy between Coca-Cola and PepsiCo especially, as well as Dr Pepper Snapple and a host of other smaller rivals.

However, that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Indeed, although Coca-Cola has dominated the soda market for the two decades that Beverage Digest has tracked it, the soft-drink giant is struggling as per-capita consumption of soda has hit multidecade lows. Along with rival PepsiCo, Coca-Cola has become increasingly dependent on business outside of carbonated beverages. At times, the change hasn’t been easy.

Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent has even called 2015 a “transition year” and announced plans to lay off between 1,600 and 1,800 employees to cut costs.

“The beverage industry remains pressured by weak demand for carbonated soft drinks,” wrote Joseph Agnese, an analyst with S&P Capital IQ, who has a “hold” rating on both stocks. “Non-carbonated beverage growth is experiencing better growth than carbonated products, with growth more in line with the snacks industry.”

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