Coca-Cola removing sugary drinks from schools

The beverage maker is taking its sweet drinks out of Czech and Slovak schools

The Coca-Cola company had voluntarily decided to no longer offer artificially sweetened drinks in vending machines in secondary schools in the Czech Republic.

The beverages in question include Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite and iced tea.

The move affects about 400 schools across the Czech Republic. The company at the same time announced a similar move for Slovakia.

The beverage maker will also remove its ads and logos from school-based machines starting in September. Only no-calorie beverages and ones with no added sugar will be available.

The move from Coca-Cola goes beyond the voluntary commitments made by the Union of European Beverages Associations (UNESDA), an industry umbrella group.

UNESDA's commitment not to offer sweetened drinks at secondary schools applies only to carbonated beverages. In the Czech Republic, we have decided to extend this responsible approach to other categories such as ice tea or energy drinks,” said Petr Jonák, director of external relations at Coca-Cola HBC Czech Republic and Slovakia, said according to media reports.

Coca-Cola also said it is planning to meet another UNESDA commitment: the average reduction in sugar in the carbonated drink portfolio by 10 percent by 2020.

Other countries in the EU such as the UK have been preparing legislation to regulate beverages sold in schools including also caffeinated beverages and energy drinks.

The move by Coca-Cola, one of the largest beverage vendors, to voluntarily remove its sugary beverages reduces the need for legislation.

In separate news, Coca-Cola has been diversifying its portfolio and is buying the Costa coffee chain in a deal worth several billion dollars. Costa has some 2,755 outlets in Europe and is the biggest chain in the UK.

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