Where’s our Coca-Cola? Fast food chains still offer iced tea

Ralf Rivas
(UPDATED) Coca-Cola FEMSA clarifies, saying it is 'optimistic' it will stabilize the supply of Coke Original taste 'in the next few weeks'

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED)– It has been over 2 months and consumers in Metro Manila and other areas in the country have been unable to quench their thirst with the fizz of the classic Coca-Cola.

Customers have started to notice the shortage mid-May and the beverage giant started to complain about the matter on the weeks after. 

In a statement given to Rappler, Coca-Cola FEMSA earlier said, “Coke Original Taste is now available in stores/restaurants.”

However, our informal survey showed otherwise. This reporter tried to order food with Coca-Cola as the preferred beverage in 4 major fast food chains in Quezon City and Pasig City through their delivery services between July 23 and August 3.

Jollibee only offered pineapple juice, iced tea, and Sprite on most occasions. This reporter also visited several stores in Makati and Quezon City during lunch and found the same situation.

McDonald’s also only offered other drinks instead of the default Coca-Cola drink to go with combo meals. Coke float also remained unavailable.

Chow King and KFC also offered alternatives like iced tea. 

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol previously said in a May 25 interview that Coca-Cola FEMSA complained sugar farmers are not complying with their committed volume of sugar.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has not received any complaint from rival Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines.

An industry source said local farmers preferred to sell sugar to Pepsi-Cola as a way to “get back” at Coca-Cola FEMSA over “sensitive issues regarding labor” and “disputes with sugar farmers.”

The beverage firm has yet to give a statement regarding the matter.

Moreover, the source privy to the issue said that bottled and canned Coca-Cola are not affected with the shortage as it had a different formula than those being dispensed in fast food chains. Original Coke also contained more sugar than other varieties.

Coca-Cola FEMSA previously said it “has decided to prioritize the production” of other drink varieties “to ensure an uninterrupted supply to our customers and consumers.”

Prices of refined sugar have spiked to P2,900 per 50-kilogram bag back in June, which led the government to import around 200,000 metric tons of sugar.

Coca-Cola FEMSA said they were working closely with the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) and other stakeholders to address the matter. 

The company later clarified, saying, “We are optimistic that the supply of our Coke Original Taste in restaurants and stores will continue to stabilize in the next few weeks.” – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.