ATLANTA – Coca-Cola shareowners gathered today in a space where their company’s rich heritage lives on, and left with a glimpse into its future.

For the second consecutive year, The Coca-Cola Company hosted its annual shareowners meeting at the World of Coca-Cola in downtown Atlanta’s Pemberton Place – located just a few blocks from where the first Coca-Cola was poured nearly 131 years ago. And while the company’s flagship brand remains its biggest, the business is evolving in line with shifting consumer tastes and shopping trends.

“The Coca-Cola Company – your company – will become bigger than the world’s best and most-loved brand,” James Quincey, who will become Coke’s CEO on May 1, told a crowd of 300 shareowners. “In very simple terms, The Coca-Cola Company will be about beverages for life."

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Shareowners applaud during the 2017 annual meeting at the World of Coca-Cola in downtown Atlanta.

Current CEO Muhtar Kent, who will remain chairman of the company’s board of directors, reiterated a theme covered during the 2016 meeting: the company’s enduring commitment to long-term value creation.

“We’re beginning a new chapter in our story of sustainable growth and long-term value creation,” he said. 

Kent highlighted the ongoing evolution of the company’s portfolio, which today includes 3,900 products and more than 500 brands. Daily servings of the company’s still beverages have increased over the last two decades from roughly 70 million to 500 million.

“And at the same time, sparkling has grown,” Kent added. “So it’s not an either/or question… we will do both as we have done. Because at the end of the day, we have to be the best at delivering the beverages people want. That’s the name of the game going forward.”

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'James is the right leader at the right time. He knows our business, our customers and our consumers. And he has a compelling vision to make your company a total beverage company', Muhtar Kent told shareowners.

The company’s next chapter, Quincey explained, will be powered by a consumer-centric growth model focused on providing more beverage choices in more categories.

“We have a vision of where to go next and how to build on the foundation of Muhtar’s tenure and more than 130 years of this great enterprise,” Quincey said, laying out a set of priorities to build strong brands and empower a global bottling system. 

The company is moving from a two-pronged focus on sparkling and still beverages, Quincey explained, to a “category cluster” approach focused on sparkling soft drinks; energy; juices, dairy- and plant-based drinks; water, enhanced water and sports drinks; and tea and coffee.

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'It has been a real honor and true pleasure to serve as your CEO over the last nine years,' Kent said. 'I appreciate very much the trust and faith you’ve placed in me,' said Kent, who steps down as CEO on May 1 but will remain chairman.

Coca-Cola currently has more than half of the global value share of sparkling soft drinks, but only 10 to 15 percent of the other aforementioned categories. “As we start to get more granular by category and country, we see tremendous opportunity,” Quincey said. “It’s allowing us to be more targeted about how to be expansive in our portfolio and continue to engage consumers all day long.”

The average person around the world consumes eight 8-oz. drinks every day of their life, Quincey explained, noting that Coke currently accounts for a fraction of those globally.

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'We have decades of growth ahead of us,' Quincey told the audience of shareowners.

“We have decades of growth ahead of us,” he concluded. “We can legitimately aspire – with one portfolio – to not only satisfy, engage and deliver great taste for a whole day’s worth of drinks but do so within a healthy, balanced diet. This is a path that’s possible to a larger scale for this company and more profitability.”

During the business portion of the meeting, shareowners supported the election of all directors and other management proposals. Listen to an audio recording of the meeting here.