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2011 Power 50: No. 32 Muhtar Kent

Muhtar Kent is commemorating Coca-Cola's 125th anniversary by popping the top on a can of bubbly. But the birthday of the carbonated soft drink share leader isn't the only thing the president and chief executive officer is celebrating.

Since acquiring the North American business of Coca-Cola Enterprises last year, The Coca-Cola Co. has experienced organic volume growth for the last four quarters while increasing market share and brand loyalty in the U.S. and Canada.

In fact, for the first time ever, Diet Coke overtook Pepsi-Cola in 2010 to occupy the No. 2 CSD spot. More than 110 million servings of the no-calorie soda are consumed worldwide each day. The brand is just one of hundreds contributing to what Kent considers Coca-Cola's biggest recent accomplishment.

“Working with our nearly 300 bottling partners around the world, we added more than 1 billion incremental unit cases of volume to our business, with the sparkling beverage business growing in every operating group around the world last year,” Kent told SN.

In the decades since the first Coca-Cola was served in an Atlanta pharmacy on May 8, 1886, The Coca-Cola Co. has grown to include more than 3,500 beverage products representing 500 brands (15 of which are $1 billion brands). That's three times the number offered a decade ago and more than 10 times those offered 20 years ago.

Nearly 25% of Coca-Cola's current global portfolio consists of low- and no-calorie beverages. It also continues to invest in fortified products, like drinks containing vitamins, minerals and other beneficial ingredients.

“While our heritage and the lifeblood of our company lie in our continuously growing sparkling beverage category, we continue to increase the value of our still portfolio,” Kent said. That's especially true of fast-growth categories such as ready-to-drink tea, coffee and enhanced waters.

The company is also placing its business in a broader social context with its new Global Office of Sustainability. Headed by Coca-Cola's former chief marketing officer, Beatriz Perez, it launched July 1. Perez holds the newly created role of chief sustainability officer.

“While we have a great team of people throughout the Coca-Cola system who have been advancing our strategy for sustainable business growth, a dedicated chief sustainability officer and an Office of Sustainability will ensure that we advance our efforts to build a sustainable business further, faster and more strategically,” Kent said.

In addition to managing sustainable packaging, recycling, climate protection, protecting human rights and ethically sourcing materials, the office hopes to ensure that Coca-Cola stays on track with its goal to give back an amount of water equivalent to what it uses in all of its beverages and production, by 2020.

“We're making progress here by improving our water-use efficiency, treating all wastewater from our production facilities to stringent standards and replenishing water in nature and communities through some 320 community water projects in 86 countries,” Kent said.

The Office of Sustainability will also guide the introduction of PlantBottle packaging in every bottle Coca-Cola sells by 2020. The PlantBottle was the first recyclable plastic beverage bottle made partially from plants.