After almost 60 years, Coca-Cola is on sale again in Burma. It’s one of the world’s most recognised brands, so are there any countries where the drinks giant still remains unsold?
Coca-Cola says it sells 1.8 billion servings of the drink every day. But for the last six decades, none has been in Burma. That’s because of US trade sanctions on the military junta which ruled the country from 1962 to 2011, BBC reported.
Coca-Cola‘s rival PepsiCo has also announced plans to resume sales in Burma.
There are now just two countries in the world where Coca-Cola cannot be bought or sold – at least, not officially. They are Cuba and North Korea, which are both under long-term US trade embargoes (Cuba since 1962 and North Korea since 1950).
Cuba was actually one of the first three countries outside the US to bottle Coke, in 1906. But the company moved out as Fidel Castro’s government began seizing private assets in the 1960s, and has never returned.
In North Korea – the other Coca-Cola-free zone – recent media reports suggested it was being sold in a restaurant in Pyongyang. But Coca-Cola says if any drinks are being sold in either North Korea or Cuba, they are being smuggled in on the black market, not via official channels.
The dark fizzy soda was created in 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia. From the early days the Coca-Cola company looked to expand worldwide, and by the early 1900s it was bottling the drink in Asia and Europe.
But the big boost came as a result of World War II when Coca-Cola was provided to US troops overseas. There were more than 60 military bottling plants for Coca-Cola around the world during the war, and locals got a taste for the drink too.
During the Cold War, Coca-Cola became a symbol of capitalism and a faultline between capitalism and communism. It was not marketed in the former Soviet Union due to the fear that profits would go straight into communist government coffers. Pepsi filled the gap and was widely sold.
When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, many East Germans bought Coca-Cola by the crate-load. Drinking Coca-Cola became a symbol of freedom.
Other than the former Soviet Union, the main region that Coca-Cola has struggled in historically is the Middle East, largely due to a boycott implemented by the Arab League from 1968-1991, as a punishment for it selling in Israel. Pepsi picked up a lot of the sales in the Middle East – and many local versions of the drink thrived.
Coca-Cola is not trying to get involved in politics, but as a huge brand so closely associated with the US, it sometimes finds itself tangled up in politics, or singled out for criticism.
In 2003, protesters in Thailand poured Coca-Cola onto the streets as a demonstration against the US-led invasion of Iraq, and sales were temporarily suspended.
Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened to ban Coca-Cola and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez recently urged people to drink locally-made fruit juice rather than drink Coca-Cola or Pepsi.
But 126 years after its birth, Coca-Cola is still pushing forward in terms of sales, with strong growth – especially, it says, in the emerging markets of India, China and Brazil.