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Coke pulling plug on low-sugar Life brand in UK after sales fizzle

Coca-Cola is dropping its low-sugar Coke Life brand in the United Kingdom after sales of the distinctive green-labeled drinks fizzed out, according to news reports.

London’s Daily Mail, among others, reported that the drink will be disappearing from store shelves in England and other parts of the island kingdom in June.

Coca-Cola and industry players blamed consumer confusion over where the drink fits in the companies’ line-up of sugary and sugar-free drinks, as well the companies’ decision to scrap several sizes of cans and bottles, according to press reports.

It was unclear what implications Coca-Cola’s move in the UK has for the Life variant in the United States.

“Since its launch in 2014, Coca-Cola Life has been performing well in the U.S. market. We continue to invest in the brand, expand availability and packaging diversity nationally,” a Coca-Cola spokesperson said Friday in an emailed statement.

Still, the UK move could be bad news for two of Coca-Cola’s recent strategies to produce products with less sugar and sell its drinks in smaller packages. The strategy has been the Atlanta beverage giant’s answer to slowing soda sales and complaints that its products are contributing to the rise of obesity and diabetes in the United States and other countries.

Coca-Cola launched the Life brand over two years ago as a healthier alternative to its traditional fully-loaded colas. The cola uses a hybrid mix of sugar and stevia leaf extract to produce drinks with about 35 t0 45 percent fewer calories, depending on the market.

But according to the overseas news reports, life has been hard for the Life brand in the UK.

First, the green cans and bottles came with 35 percent fewer calories than regular Coca-Cola, same as in the United States. But after two years of falling sales, the company cut the sugar level to roughly half as high as traditional Coke.

But last year, sales of Coca-Cola Life fell by 58 percent in the UK after the company scrapped several sizes of cans and bottles, the Daily Mail reported, citing a trade magazine, The Grocer.

Meanwhile, sales of Coca-Cola’s no-calorie versions, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, have grown significantly, the newspaper reported. Coca-Cola plans to boost its investment in that brand in the U.K., the newspaper said.

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