Coca-Cola says coronavirus could affect supply chain of sweeteners

Coca-Cola says coronavirus could affect supply chain of sweeteners
© DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

Coca-Cola reported that the outbreak of coronavirus in China could affect its supply chain demands, leading to a shorter supply of goods that go into making the company's diet beverages.

Exports of goods from China, such as artificial sweeteners used in the company's zero-sugar drinks, have been delayed as a result of industrial stalls related to the spread of the virus, according to CNN on Tuesday.

"We have initiated contingency supply plans and do not foresee a short-term impact due to these delays," Coca-Cola wrote in an annual report. "However, we may see tighter supplies of some of these ingredients in the longer term should production or export operations in China deteriorate."

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In its report, the company listed sweeteners used in a variety of its diet and non-diet beverages, including aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, saccharin, cyclamate, and steviol glycosides.

Coca-Cola said it is taking precautionary measures with its employees in China to prevent further spread of the virus.

"The safety and health of the company's associates remains a high priority," according to the statement by the company.

Face masks, hand sanitizers and other installations such as health monitoring systems will reportedly be implemented in Coca-Cola factories in China.

The company did not indicate specific delayed supply chains, but estimated its case volume could diminish by 2 or 3 percentage points, organic revenue by 1 or 2 percentage points, and first-quarter earnings-per-share by 1 or 2 cents.

"We do not anticipate a shortage of Diet Coke or Coke Zero," Coca-Cola said in a statement to The Hill. 

As of Thursday, Mainland China reported 78,500 cases of the coronavirus, with 2,641 deaths in the Hubei province where the virus originated, according to Johns Hopkins data.

—Updated Friday at 11:05 a.m.