Diet Vanilla Coke Coming in Fall

ATLANTA (Reuters) – Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE:KO – News) is preparing to unveil a diet version of its popular new Vanilla Coke brand in the all-important U.S. soft drink market, a beverage industry analyst said on Monday.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, the world’s No. 1 soft drink company, will put Diet Vanilla Coke on store shelves in September or October, according to John Sicher, editor of Beverage Digest, a leading industry newsletter.

The roll-out would come less than six months after Coca-Cola introduced a vanilla-flavored version of its flagship Coke brand. Vanilla Coke was the top-selling 20-ounce soft drink in supermarkets and drug stores in the four weeks after its May 15 launch, according to Sicher.

“The (Vanilla Coke) brand is off to a good start and most carbonated soft drink brands of any scale have diet versions, which enables the brands to access a broader consumer spectrum,” Sicher said.

Coca-Cola would not confirm speculation that the new diet soft drink was on the drawing board.

“It would be something that we would consider, but there’s nothing that we have announced at this point and everything out there is just speculation,” Coca-Cola spokeswoman Susan McDermott said.

McDermott, however, noted that the soft drink maker was “very pleased” so far with the performance of Vanilla Coke.

The arrival of Diet Vanilla Coke would be the latest in a flurry of product roll-outs by both Coca-Cola and archrival PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE:PEP – News), in the United States, the largest and most important market for the soft drink titans.

In addition to Vanilla Coke, Coca-Cola has unveiled Diet Coke with lemon and reintroduced its popular fruit-flavored Fanta brand in the United States. Purchase, New-York based PepsiCo. has launched lemon-flavored Pepsi Twist and Mountain Dew Code Red, a variation of its Mountain Dew soft drink.

Although both companies have scored successes, PepsiCo. has been credited by some analysts for better execution of product roll-outs and marketing, especially in the U.S. market.

Shares of Coca-Cola rose $1.40, or 3 percent, to $48.85 in mid-morning trading on Monday on the New York Stock Exchange. PepsiCo. gained $1.15, or 2.9 percent, to $41.35 on the NYSE.