Mexican Coca-ColaFor better or worse, Americans are major consumers of carbonated soft drinks, a market that experts predict will reach $195 billion in global sales by 2014, an increase of more than 11% since 2009.

While Atlanta-based Coca Cola (KO) remains the world's largest soft drink company, American consumers are eclipsed by their Mexican counterparts when it comes to per capita consumption of The Real Thing. In fact, the Mexican version of Coca-Cola -- made with cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and served in glass bottles rather than plastic -- is making great inroads in the U.S. market. Part of that market is, of course, people who grew up drinking Mexican Coke.

"When purchasing Coca-Cola from Mexico, Hispanics are purchasing a bit of nostalgia -- it's like getting a piece of home," says Greg Galvez, vice president and general manager of Importation and Commercialization of Coca-Cola North America, in an email. "Some of that feeling may have to do with the packaging and the fact that it is imported."

A Facebook Site of Its Own


The Mexican version of Coca-Cola is also being sought out by people avoiding HFCS -- but there's a growing legion of U.S. fans who insist it simply tastes better. Mexican Coke has received recent mentions in a wide spectrum of media, from a San Francisco lifestyle website to a magazine from New York's affluent Westchester County suburbs, numerous food-and-drink blogs and even an agriculture industry website.

And of course, in this age of social networking, Mexican Coke aficionados sing the drink's praises on their own Facebook site.

In fact, the iconic glass bottles of Coca-Cola from Mexico can be found in many major supermarkets and big-box retail stores across the country. It usually costs more than the U.S. version -- from about $1 a bottle in stores to more than twice that price at some restaurants.

Coca-Cola was reportedly unhappy with the Mexican imports in the U.S., at first concerned about controlling the product's distribution. But starting in September 2005, the company's largest U.S. bottler began a pilot program to import Mexican Coke into Texas. "This pilot was expanded into California in February 2006, and in 2009 it was expanded to Florida, Georgia and other states in the Southeast, Northeast and Midwest," says Galvez. "The success of the program resulted in additional Coca-Cola bottlers distributing the product and being introduced to some of the larger grocery chains."

A Decade to Spread Through the Country?


And unlike most trends, Mexican Coke will probably be stocked on American shelves for a while. "Anytime you mention the words 'carbonated soft drinks,' you're talking about one of the most popular drinks in America," says Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst with NPD, the Chicago-based market research firm. "One of the spices of life in this country is trying new foods, and [soft drinks are part of that] category."


Balzer says one of Mexican Coca-Cola's strengths is the size of the U.S. market. "Its advantage is it has a lot of people to go through before everybody has tried it," he says. "It may take 10 years to get everybody to try it."

The American food-and-drink market is always open to new tastes and flavors, Balzer says -- but the challenge is getting people to try something more than once. "Will they do it again when it's no longer just new?" he asks. And beyond the taste, "does it make my life easier, and does it make my food costs cheaper?" he asks. "If it doesn't do one of those two things and certainly doesn't succeed on the first one, then forget it -- it's a one-time buy. For it to thrive, to capture more people, it has to be more than just providing the novelty of new."


If early indications are any clue, Mexican Coke could become a popular favorite in parts of the U.S. where Spanish accents are hardly the most commonly heard.

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272 Comments

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monhi

balls

March 26 2011 at 3:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Libertyisgood

In fact, when I was yound and drinking Coke made in the USA, it was made with real sugar...which does taste better. The reason Coke in the USA came to be made with the inferior HFCS is the US government's protection of the sugar lobby in the USA. Down with the inferior products and political favoritess of the command market and up with a real and free market where customers rule with their dollar votes. Americans are such suckers to be so eager to hand power and money to government elites and their corporate friends.

September 22 2010 at 1:27 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Jerry Jones

When I was growing up I remember the glass bottles, one day going through a six pack, two of the bottles had a cigarette butt in them, and another had some kind of snot mucas mass in it. Good thing I was pouring into a glass or else I would have got that in my mouth.EEOUWWW To this day I cant get that out of my mind, and have not drunk out of a glass bottle since. I guess back then they only washed out the bottles, and not made new ones each production ,and you got your 10 cents each bottle. Mexico, I would think there quality standards are not that high, If I did buy some I would be holding the bottles up to the light to see if there was any forein matter in them.

September 22 2010 at 1:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Fred

I don't care where it is made and whether it's high fructose corn syrup or sugar -it's wildly high in calories. One bottle of this stuff has almost 150% the calories of a chocolate bar. How do you say "fat" in Spanish?

September 21 2010 at 11:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Fred's comment
ebreit19

'porcina grasa' will should do

September 22 2010 at 7:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
teetse

People really want the real thing REAL Sugar not high fructose corn syrup! Sugar tastes better and you get satisfied faster. The corn syrup makes you want more and more and then you get fater and fater!

September 21 2010 at 9:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
redwoodcitykarl

WHO DO YOU THINK OWNES MEXICAN COCA COLA???

September 21 2010 at 8:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Numb Nuts

Sounds good. If CocaCola were not to cheap to put sugar in their products, I would remain a fan, but I am aiming to try this Mexican Coke. I prefer sugar to HFCS, so if I like it, American Coke, see ya (as long as I can get it). Typical US corporation stupidity.....save a few bucks and change the recipe. Sugar worked for decades, why did they change it? Arrogance. Mexico shouldn't be able to compete with Coca Cola; but Coca Cola needs to listen to its customers or lose a greater and greater share of their market.

September 21 2010 at 5:46 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
kycolonel

I LOVE Mexican Coca-Cola! Got my 1st taste in a Mexican Restaurant in our midwestern city of Louisville. ¡Es excelente! Less of an aftertaste (as compared with HFCS) and less carbonated. Just like the memories of the Coca Cola of my "yute" (as uttered by Joe Pesci in "My Cousin Vinny"). ¡Viva Coca Cola Mexicana!

September 21 2010 at 11:54 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
tgan

Most people older than 30 years old grew up on Coke in glass bottles made with real sugar. The Coke in glass has a higher carbonation level and anyone that worked for a bottler in the 50's and 60's will tell you the smaller the bottle, the less carbonation lost during filling. The 10 ounce bottle is considered to be the best tasting ever sold. We don't need Mexico to discover that.

September 21 2010 at 11:22 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Bob

NO COKE FROM MEXICO WISE UP AMERICA NO MORE IMPORTS LETS GET OUR COUNTRY BACK WE DON'T NEED THE REST OF THE WORLD TO TAKE CARE OF US WE CAN DO IT WE NEED TO GET BACK TO MAKING AND BUILDING AND MANUFACTURING HERE AGAIN NO MORE IMPORTS OF ANYTHING WAKE UP A-HOLES

September 21 2010 at 7:48 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Bob's comment
dawn

A M E N!!!

September 21 2010 at 7:56 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
fairbairn7

That's important, but not as important as getting rid of corn syrup in our children's diet. If their health isn't there who will work in the factories?

September 21 2010 at 11:19 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply