American drinks giant, Coca-Cola, retains its position as the world’s most valuable soft drinks brand after recording a 19% increase in brand value to US$36.2 billion, according to the latest report by Brand Finance, the world’s leading independent brand valuation consultancy. The brand has further widened its lead, as second-placed Pepsi suffers an 8% drop in brand value to US$18.5 billion.
Aside from calculating overall brand value, Brand Finance also determines the relative strength of brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating marketing investment, stakeholder equity, and business performance. According to these criteria, Coca-Cola is the world’s strongest brand across the food and non-acholic drink sectors with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 89.9 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA+ brand strength rating.
With a rich 127-year long history, Coca-Cola is still the most consumed soda in the world, with a staggering 1.9 billion servings, across 200 countries, enjoyed each day. The brand’s recent success can largely be attributed to the uplift in sales of Diet Coke, following a slump lasting several years, as a result of successful marketing and rebranding campaigns.
As with all soda brands across the sector, Coca-Cola has had to contend with the perpetual decline in sales, which have fallen every year in the US since 2004, as well as the issues arising from the increase in health-conscious consumers and governments imposing taxes on sugar-laden products.
David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance commented:
“The soft drinks sector is facing scrutiny like never before in the Western world. From high sugar content causing a stir, to the backlash over single-use plastic, brands are having to think fast to meet changing needs and circumstances. Although Coca-Cola always has its sheer volume of sales to rely on, the brand needs to evolve with society if it wants to maintain it dominance in the sector.”
Nestlé boasts most valuable portfolio
Once again, Switzerland’s Nestlé tops the food ranking, although its brand value increased by just 1% year on year to US$19.6 billion. The brand celebrated a boost in organic growth, following stronger performances in the brand’s two largest markets, China and the US. The brand continually strives towards greater product innovation in order to meet the ever-changing consumer trends and has successfully capitalised on the popular vegan and vegetarian movements. Nestlé has also recently bought the rights to sell its products under the Starbucks brand name, opening up vast opportunities globally through Starbuck’s immense power as the world’s biggest coffee chain company.
When looking at the brand portfolios across the food and drinks sector, Nestlé’s portfolio is the most valuable with a combined brand value of US$70.5 billion, up 11% on the previous year.
Corporate brands take a hit
Corporate brands Kraft (down 7% to US$4.5 billion), Unilever (down 5% to US$4.2 billion), and Heinz (down 14% to US$3.3 billion) have all suffered from a decline in brand values, with Unilever and Heinz falling out of the top 10 in the food ranking.
Following The Kraft Heinz Company’s failed acquisition of Unilever in 2017, Kraft has undertaken aggressive cost-cutting measures, resulting in significant loss of revenue. Unilever, faring better than Kraft following the failed takeover, has faced scrutiny from stakeholders amid the now-abandoned plans to move its HQ to the Netherlands.
Yili – crème de la crème of Asian dairy
Dairy brands Danone and Yili claim second and third place in the food ranking respectively and top the dairy ranking. After recording an impressive 24% increase in brand value to US$7.7 billion, Yili has closed the gap considerably with Danone, after the French giant suffered a 10% loss in brand value to US$8.1 billion.
Asia’s most valuable dairy brand for 4 years running, Yili has relentlessly committed to its global expansion programme and, despite losing out to French dairy manufacturer Lactalis to acquire Danone’s subsidiary Stonyfield, has successfully bought Thailand’s Chomthana. The brand shows no signs of slowing down with the recently announced acquisition of New Zealand’s second largest dairy producer. These moves are all key steps towards the brand’s ambition of building a global network beyond its domestic market, targeting 2 billion consumers at home and abroad by 2020.
Yili has also retained the highest brand potential score in the dairy ranking, highlighting the vast future growth opportunities for the brand. Yili prides itself on being highly innovative within the sector, and in 2018 it upgraded its R&D Innovation Centre in Europe and opened the doors to a new state-of-the-art facility in the Netherlands. Yili considers its innovation strategy to be the core power for its brand growth in the future.
Fellow Chinese brand, Mengniu, has also recorded a significant increase in brand value (up 45% to US$5.0 billion) and has entered the top 10 in the food ranking for the first time. Both Yili and Mengniu have benefitted from the boom in the Chinese dairy market, which is currently on track to overtake the US as the world’s largest dairy market.
Ones to watch
Across the sector there are some standout brands that have either entered the rankings for the first time or have recorded significant growth in brand value.
Canada’s McCain has entered the food top 10 for the first time (up 25% to US$4.7 billion). A global leader in the frozen food market, the brand has expanded several of its flagship plants in order to meet growing demand. McCain has also widened it global footprint, acquiring a 49% stake in Brazil’s Forno de Minas.
PepsiCo-owned porridge brand Quaker is the sector’s fastest-growing, recording an impressive 57% increase in brand value to US$3.0 billion. Expanding beyond traditional porridge, Quaker has managed to take the humble oat and launch a wide variety of new products, including flavoured oats and overnight oats. The brand did however hit the headlines when traces of a cancer-linked weed killer were found in its products.
Chinese brands Haitian (brand value US$3.3 billion) and Want Want (up 50% to US$3.0 billion) are also standout brands in the ranking. Haitian, the highest new entry into the food ranking in 16th position, is a leading brand in the Chinese condiment and sauce industry and has emerged as a brand to watch following the brand’s exploitation of the booming Chinese catering industry. Want Want is one of the fastest-growing brands this year. It has expanded its point of sales, now utilising the vending machine channel to supplement its online and offline offering.
Recording a better performance than its flagship brand, PepsiCo has retained its position as the second most valuable food and drink portfolio, following a 7% increase in total brand value to US$58.9 billion. A lot of its brand portfolio growth is coming from food brands. In soft drinks, in turn, PepsiCo’s strategy has been to widen its offering to include more flavours and to offer low-calorie alternatives to all its major drinks.
PepsiCo acquired Israel-based Sodastream, the brand that produces the machinery which allows consumers to make their own carbonated drinks, for US$3.2 billion last year. This deal has widened PepsiCo’s reach enormously, going beyond the bottle into consumer’s homes.
The Coca-Cola Company, sitting in third, has seen a 19% jump in its portfolio’s brand value to US$53.6 billion, further closing the gap behind PepsiCo. In 2018, Coca-Cola bought British coffeehouse brand Costa Coffee from Whitbread, launching Coca-Cola as the biggest coffee shop owner in the UK with 4,000 shops in its portfolio.
Coca-Cola’s ambition to evolve into a total beverage company, moving beyond soda, is well underway with acquisitions completed of the Australian kombucha maker, Organic & Raw Trading Co, and through pipeline launch plans of the company’s first alcoholic and energy drinks.
Note to Editors
Every year, Brand Finance values 5,000 of the world’s biggest brands. The 50 most valuable food brands, 25 most valuable soft drinks brands and 10 most valuable dairy brands are included in the Brand Finance Food & Drink 2019 report.
Brand value is understood as the net economic benefit that a brand owner would achieve by licensing the brand in the open market. Brand strength is the efficacy of a brand’s performance on intangible measures relative to its competitors.
Additional insights, charts, and more information about the methodology, as well as definitions of key terms are available in the Brand Finance Food & Drink 2019 report.
Data compiled for the Brand Finance rankings and reports are provided for the benefit of the media and are not to be used for any commercial or technical purpose without written permission from Brand Finance.