- Beverage giant’s biggest brands will remain on shelves
- Senate lawmakers are trying to work out a national solution
Coca-Cola Co., the world’s largest soft-drink company, expects to pull some of its beverages from Vermont stores as the state imposes a GMO-labeling law this week.
All products made with genetically modified organisms must have warning labels in order to stay on sale in Vermont -- the nation’s second-least-populous state -- starting July 1. While the Atlanta-based company’s top beverages will stay on shelves, including Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero, some smaller brands or configurations may disappear for now, according to spokesman Ben Sheidler.
“To avoid multiple labeling changes, some lower-volume brands and packages we offer within our broad portfolio could be temporarily unavailable in Vermont,” he told Bloomberg BNA.
Products made with GMOs are a hot-button topic in the food and agriculture industry, and the U.S. Senate is discussing its own bill that would supersede Vermont’s labeling law. Consumers are increasingly wary of scientifically altered ingredients, but food companies say the scientific consensus is that GMOs are safe.
Kellogg Co., Campbell Soup Co. and Mars Inc. previously announced that they would bow to the Vermont law and begin labeling their products for GMOs.
But the industry is still seeking a national solution, saying a patchwork of state laws isn’t practical. Republicans and Democrats on the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee have struck a deal that would create national GMO-labeling protocol, pre-empting the Vermont law.
For beverage companies such as Coca-Cola, the GMO debate adds to bigger problems. Per-person soda consumption in the U.S. fell to a 30-year low last year, according to Beverage Digest. And sales have continued to tumble in 2016.
PepsiCo Inc. announced that it was revamping its diet-cola line this week after slow sales.