Coca-Cola Backs WHO Sugar Guidelines, in Surprising Turnaround

A single can of Coke has 39 grams of sugar, about 14 grams more than WHO says we should consume all day, so why the support?

We’ve “outgrown” our namesake soda, CEO James Quincey said.

Coca-Cola may be known for its soda, but in a surprising move, the company is backing down from marketing sugary drinks. Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey recently told investors at an industry conference in Boca Raton, Florida, that the company supports WHO guidelines on sugar consumption. The World Health Organization recommends consuming 25 grams of sugar each day, or about 10 percent of your total calorie consumption, while a can of Coke, ironically has 39 grams of sugar, 1.5 times that amount.

Quincey explained that it is becoming a “total beverage company” and would prefer to outgrow its sugar drink namesake to focus on reformulating diet drinks and bringing down its global “sugar footprint.”


The healthy initiative is likely a strategic move. Soda consumption is at a 30-year low, and Big Beverage is panicking. Pepsi has already aggressively cut back on sugar, and both companies have introduced craft sodas that use real sugar with no high fructose corn syrup or other artificial sweeteners. Therefore, Quincey’s remarks do not come as much of a surprise to industry insiders, while the company will likely focus on healthier products in the future.