Soda under the Coca-Cola brand remains one of the sales leaders among cola-flavored beverages in chain and non-chain retail, despite the suspension of production in Russia. This follows from the data available to RBC service «Sales.rf» (works in partnership with the operator of fiscal data «The first FDO», which is part of the VTB group) and the IT company «Evotor».
In January and February 2023, more than a third of cola consumers whose purchases were evaluated by analysts «Sales.rf», they chose the drink «Good Cola» in stores (it is produced by the Russian factories of Multon Partners, which belonged to the bottler of the original drink — the Coca-Cola HBC Russia company).
The Coca-Cola brand of the imported Coca-Cola Company, which left Russia, was in second place in popularity, but its share in sales more than tripled compared to 2022, to 14.1%. Drinks under the brand «Chernogolovka» rounded out the top three leaders. The cola produced by PepsiCo remained in the top ten most popular (it was the sixth in sales with a share of 3.7%).A year ago, the absolute leaders in sales in the category of cola-flavored beverages were the international brands Coca-Cola and Pepsi: they accounted for 47.8 and 44.4% of sales in units, respectively. Of the other brands, only the Fresh Bar brand occupied a significant market share (it is produced by the Russian division of the Swiss company Global Functional Drinks), and the share of other market participants was less than 1% (the top five included the Vips brand produced in Chelyabinsk and the Belarusian Bela-Cola).
Analysts «Sales.rf» assessed consumer preferences based on purchases made in comparable stores in January and February 2022-2023. The research involved retail chain stores, supermarkets, mini-markets «shop at home», gas stations, etc., where soda is sold — a total of 27 thousand sale points across the country, which also worked in January—February 2022. The data cover purchases in large retail chains, but do not include the stores of the two largest retailers by turnover — X5 Group (Pyaterochka, Perekrestok, Chizhik) and Magnit.
The data that the soda of American companies that left Russia still occupies a prominent place on the shelf of Russian stores is also confirmed by the statistics of the IT company Evotor, which tracks purchases in non-chain retail. According to this data, in January 2023, imported Coca-Cola ranked first not only in the cola category, but also among all sweet carbonated drinks — it accounted for 32% of sales in monetary terms (a year ago, Coca-Cola of Russian bottling accounted for 60%). PepsiCo drinks imported from abroad occupy the fourth line (9% of sales in monetary terms), Good Cola (26%) and Chernogolovka (12%) were among the three leaders in sales in rubles.
Imported Coca-Cola is not represented in the Magnit assortment, and the original brand soda produced in Russia has not been sold since the autumn of 2022, a representative of the retail chain clarified to RBC. In 2023, the leaders in sales in the category of sweet carbonated drinks were the brands Good Cola, Cool-Cola, Chernogolovka and Fresh Bar, the press service of Magnit indicated. A year ago, the absolute leaders were Coca-Cola and Pepsi brands, the top five also included Fresh Bar and a cola-flavored drink from the Chelyabinsk company Niagara.
«The ABC of Taste» assortment of carbonated cola—flavored beverages has not changed in comparison with 2022 - imported Coca-Cola keeps it place in top 10, as well as drinks Dr.Pepper, San Pellegrino, the company said.
RBC sent requests to X5 Group (Pyaterochka, Perekrestok, Chizhik chains), Truthful, Lenta, Metro Cash&Carry, Auchan, as well as to The Coca-Cola Company, Coca-Cola HBC and PepsiCo.
How Coca-Cola left Russia and how it was replaced
In March 2022, the world's largest producers of carbonated beverages, The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo, decided to suspend work in Russia against the background of the beginning of a special military operation in Ukraine. Russian factories that produced Coca-Cola drinks stopped receiving the syrup necessary for the production of branded soda back in March. In August, Bottler warned that as soon as the stocks of beverages are depleted, Coca-Cola HBC will no longer produce and sell them in Russia, but will focus on the production of drinks of local juice brands — «Good», Rich, «My family». At the end of July, the Russian division of Coca-Cola (Coca-Cola HBC Eurasia LLC) changed its name to «Moulton Partners» LLC, and then launched the production of a Coca-Cola analogue — «Good Cola». PepsiCo also stopped the production and sale of Pepsi, 7Up, Mirinda beverages on the Russian market, retaining only supplies of essential goods such as dairy products and baby food. The stocks of Coca-Cola produced in Russia in the retail chains of Moscow and St. Petersburg began to come to an end in the summer, first of all, bottles larger than 1-2 liters ended up on sale.
After the largest international players left, local soda producers began to occupy their niche in the market, which began to produce analog drinks. In just seven months of 2022, the range of cola-flavored beverages in retail chains increased from 169 to 186 brands, the research company NielsenIQ estimated. But soda sales in Russia in 2022 as a whole fell: in the 12 months to November 2022, the reduction was 9.8% (in rubles, sales increased by 3.6% due to rising prices). Along with the analogues of popular soda, products that completely imitate the original Coca-Cola began to appear in retail. So, in November-December, a drink appeared in the «Lights» network and some non-chain retail stores, the bottle and label of which completely coincide with the original Coca-Cola of Russian production. «Moulton Partners» LLC assured that this drink cannot be original, since the company stopped producing these drinks back in April 2022.
Why Coca-Cola is still one of the best-selling
The original Coca-Cola still occupies a significant share of the Russian market, even though its sales are in pieces, according to «Sales.rf» in the first two months of 2023, they fell by 78% year-on-year, and the price increased by an average of 68%. After the international soda brands left Russia, not only local producers have become more active, but also suppliers of these products from neighboring countries. For example, Coca-Cola from Germany, Poland, Great Britain, Albania, Belarus and Iran appeared in stores and public catering outlets. However, in the case of soda from Iran, Coca-Cola in a red aluminum can is similar to the original only in appearance: the drink is poured by the Iranian Khoshgovar Tehran Co, RBC pointed out.
The assortment of «The ABC of Taste» includes Coca-Cola, which is produced in Azerbaijan, Denmark, Turkey, Poland, Italy and the UK. "We did not follow the path of replacing the departed imported brands with various domestic analogues, but returned them," explains the representative of the chain.
The new analogues of cola in the Russian market have not conducted serious marketing campaigns, so they could not form a significant group of loyal consumers, says Alexey Popovichev, executive director of the Rusbrand Association. Therefore, the buyer prefers the familiar Coca-Cola brand, which has long maintained a leading position in the Russian market, the expert believes. According to him, imported Coca-Cola can be legally supplied to Russia by other countries through parallel imports, as well as countries of the Eurasian Economic Union that have a common customs space with Russia, which have their own production of the original drink at Coca-Cola HBC bottler plants — for example, Kazakhstan.
Distributors import imported Coca-Cola to Russia not directly, but outbid stock supplies, that is, surplus products in warehouses, from the market of any country that can freely supply goods to Russia, says a source of RBC in the soft drinks market. "The cargo can go through the UAE, Iran or Turkey, but it is now closed. In fact, these are not system supplies, but spot shipments of cola, which can be sold for four times more expensive. This increases the marginality of the product," the expert says. Companies from Kazakhstan also benefit from deliveries to Russia: by ordering a larger volume of goods, the network sells the main batch on the domestic market, and transports the surplus to Russia, while receiving a discount due to volumes, the interlocutor of RBC explains.