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The potential contribution sweetened drinks make to the rise of global obesity created yet another challenging year for carbonated soft drinks in 2015. The category carries an unhealthy reputation in many markets, especially as consumers develop stronger preferences regarding calorie levels and ingredients, including sugar, sweeteners and artificial flavors or preservatives. This has led the world’s leading manufacturers, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Suntory, to expand their portfolios to include products formulated with a range of sweeteners and more natural colors and flavors.

Despite slowing CSD volume sales in many European markets, Germany is emerging as a model for the future of the category. Unlike other countries where packaging and range extensions are the leading types of launches, most of Germany launches in 2015 were new products. Many of these new CSDs reflect the increase in better-for-you products, such as launches of organic varieties, products containing juice and CSDs sweetened with stevia.

Not all growing markets are taxing CSDs. Vietnam, the second-fastest growing CSD market, exempted CSDs from a tax on cigarettes, beer and spirits. Moreover, Vietnam’s rapidly developing CSD market was chosen as the debut country for Coca-Cola’s “Share a Feeling” promotion that features emojis on packaging and in advertising. The use of the expressive cartoon faces has a universal appeal, especially with the valuable demographic of younger, tech-savvy individuals.

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