Martyn Fisher speaks to Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) sales director, Gary Black, about the soft drinks giant’s innovative plans for the wholesale channel

How has CCEP helped wholesalers grow sales in the past 12 months?

Coca-Cola European PartnersTo support wholesalers, we have grown our team of experts that regularly call upon depots and also the retailers, publicans and foodservice operators that shop there. We are also doubling our field sales visits nationwide to more than 750,000.

Our new Add-To-Order technology service also makes it easier for independent operators to make an order from their chosen wholesaler. This enables CCEP products to be added to their next delivery from their chosen route to market in real time while one of our representatives is visiting their store, ensuring out-of-stocks or new products are on their way as soon as the order has been confirmed.

What is the greatest challenge the wholesale industry faces?

Wholesalers are serving an increasingly diverse customer base that requires different pack formats and demands an array of products, brands, advice and point-of-sale support. We are committed to delivering customer-centric plans that include category and shopper insight, plus expertise in areas such as digital and sustainability.

What emerging trends and opportunities can customers take advantage of?

The health and wellness trend is growing and wholesalers should consider stocking more low- and zero-sugar products to meet consumer demand. Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, for example, represents a huge opportunity, given its current value growth of nearly 29%.

What do you consider CCEP’s greatest achievement this year to be?

We have successfully grown by strengthening our core portfolio and by adding new innovation to our range in response to consumer trends, which is driving sustainable growth for customers, too.

Some examples of this include Fuze Tea’s launch earlier this year and the expansion of the Monster brand to include sugar-free sub-brand Monster Ultra.

Are you planning any activities that wholesalers should be aware of?

We are rolling out a new look for the Coca-Cola range that features the iconic red of the brand more prominently across Coca-Cola original taste (Classic) and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar to unify both varieties and encourage more people to try Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.

Coca-Cola Christmas will also be returning with our ‘Holidays are Coming’ TV advert and numerous other initiatives.

What advice would you give wholesalers looking to grow sales of soft drinks?

Our advice would be to pick the products that are being well supported by manufacturers, those that have been developed in response to consumer trends and from large or growing soft drink segments, and, finally, avoid duplication.

Choice is important, but ranges should not become too broad or confusing for shoppers.

Read similar: How wholesalers can have the most fit for purpose soft drinks range

How is CCEP reacting to concerns on plastic packaging and sustainability issues?

In July 2017, we launched a packaging strategy designed to ensure that all our packaging is recycled. We recently announced that all our large PET bottles will move from 25% recycled plastic (rPET) to 40% recycled plastic this year, a step towards our aim of 50% rPET in all our bottles by 2020.

We also added recycling messaging on packs of Coca-Cola original taste and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, and have just launched a new recycling campaign called #CokeDunks and a TV advert called ‘Across the Tracks’ to encourage more consumers to recycle. 

Fast facts

Monster Ultra is now worth over


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