Coca-Cola to retire Tab, its first diet soda, as it trims its portfolio

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Cans of diet cola Tab brand soft drink produced by the Coca-Cola Company are displayed at a supermarket in the Brooklyn borough of New York, July 26, 2011.

Ramin Talaie | Corbis Historical | Getty Images

Coca-Cola said Friday that Tab, its first diet soda, is among the drinks headed for retirement as it trims its beverage portfolio.

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the beverage giant’s transition to focusing on its bigger and more popular brands, like its namesake soda. Coke has also recently announced a restructuring plan that is meant to help it become more efficient and scale new products more quickly. The global pandemic led to a 33% decline in Coke’s second-quarter earnings, but CEO James Quincey, who has led the company since 2017, has said it is trying to emerge from the crisis stronger than before. 

Other drinks that will go out of production by the end of the year include Odwalla products, Zico coconut water, stevia-sweetened Coca-Cola Life and Diet Coke Feisty Cherry. Regional beverages like Northern Neck Ginger Ale and Delaware Punch are also slated to disappear.

“It’s about continuing to follow the consumer and being very intentional in deciding which of our brands are most deserving of our investments and resources, and also taking the tough but important steps to identify those products that are losing relevance and therefore should exit the portfolio,” Cath Coetzer, Coke’s global head of innovation and marketing operations, said in a statement.

Coke first introduced Tab to consumers in 1963, aiming the zero-calorie drink at women. In the 1970s and 1980s, as Americans tried fad diets, the diet soda grew more popular but faded once Diet Coke was introduced in 1982. The company said that Tab has maintained a “small but loyal” number of fans in recent decades.

More than half a century after Tab’s launch, Coke is betting on Diet Coke and Coke Zero Sugar to fulfill consumers’ cravings for sugar-free, low calorie soda.

Coke is expected to report its third-quarter earnings on Thursday. Shares of the company, which has a market value of $216 billion, have fallen 9% so far this year.

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