Coke’s first new permanent flavor in years adds a spicy twist - East Idaho News

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Coke’s first new permanent flavor in years adds a spicy twist

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New York (CNN) — Coke has a problem: People are increasingly seeking out water, seltzer and other flavored drinks and treating the 137-year-old soda as, well, a treat.

To counteract the trend, Coca-Cola over the past few years has experimented with wacky limited-time offerings to persuade customers to try Coke again. But its latest flavor, Coca-Cola Spiced, is its first permanent addition in a while. It’s part of Coke’s attempt to cater to tastes changing along with America’s demographics.

Coca-Cola announced the new Spiced flavor Wednesday, saying it blends the traditional Coke flavor with raspberry and spiced flavors. It will be available both in full sugar and zero-sugar varieties when it hits store shelves in the US and Canada in the coming weeks.

Coke is feeling competition from smaller brands that produce punchier and fruit-inspired flavors, like Olipop and Poppi, that have attracted consumers’ attention.

“Growth in sales of flavored sodas has generally outpaced cola for years, which is helped by a growing multicultural population,” said Duane Stanford, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest.

Traditional Coke, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Diet Coke sales grew by just 1% in North America in 2022, the most recent year for which the company has provided full sales data. That was outpaced by 3% growth in sparkling water and juice brands. In other regions, traditional Coke sales growth was outmatched by water, tea, sports drinks and coffee.

A rare new permanent addition

Coke doesn’t often add new permanent flavors to its lineup: Spiced joins just a few other flavors it always sells, including its flagship flavor, cherry and vanilla.

Spiced was selected because it’s “all about being on category trend and responsive to our consumer preferences,” who are craving bolder and punchier flavors, Sue Lynne Cha, Coke’s vice president of marketing for North America, told CNN.

Coke’s research found that an “increase in consumer willingness to try a spiced beverage” and that raspberry was selected more than 5 million times on its Freestyle drink machines in 2022, which the company “often uses for inspiration” for new flavors, she said.

“Consumers are looking for more bold flavors and more complex flavor profiles. That’s a trend we started to see in food, but also in beverage and we though that was a unique space for us to play in,” she said, adding that there’s been of a “desire of discovery” with people wanting to try something new.

“It appears Coca-Cola is looking to splice that trend onto its flagship with hopes of getting young consumers to consider the entire franchise,” he told CNN.

Coca-Cola Spiced goes on sale February 19 in both cans and bottles in various sizes at most national retailers.

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