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New Delhi: The Coca-Cola Company on Thursday said that unit case volumes in the Asia-Pacific region declined 4% primarily due to coronavirus-related restrictions in India and Japan for the three months ended 25 September, but the beverage company has seen "meaningful improvement" in these markets.

"China is well on its way to emerge stronger through solid performance in sparkling soft drinks. Recovery efforts in India and Japan continue and we've seen meaningful improvement in the face of ongoing restrictions," James Quincey, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company said in a post earnings call on Thursday. Quincey also highlighted growth in local cola brand Thums Up. He said the company’s overall brand portfolio “is working hard to return to pre-covid levels of growth and we have made progress in the quarter".

Globally, net revenue at the maker of Coca Cola, Fanta, Minute Maid juices and Sprite brand of sparkling beverages declined 9% to $8.7 billion, The Coca-Cola Company said as it announced third-quarter earnings that topped earnings estimates.

The company reported improvement in beverage consumption trends versus the prior quarter, especially a pick-up in in-home consumption.

"The company is seeing an elevated level of sales in at-home channels being more than offset by ongoing pressure in away-from-home channels, which are affected by the level of lockdown in a particular market," it said in its earnings statement.

Unit case volume at the company’s bottling investments—that are the company’s owned bottling plants—declined 10%, driven by India and South Africa, it said.

In the Asia Pacific region, the unit case volume performance reported a “solid growth in sparkling soft drinks in China", the company said. Coca-Cola does not share India-specific data.

India’s gradual unlock in June has helped improve mobility but its restaurants, railways, and airways are still working under some form of restrictions.

Earlier this month, rival food and beverage maker PepsiCo Inc said its snacking business in India recorded a high-single-digit volume growth in the third quarter of the year, even as its beverage volumes continued to remain under stress. In the AMESA region, PepsiCo’s beverage volumes declined 4%, primarily reflecting a double-digit decline in India, the maker of Lay’s chips and Mountain Dew beverage said for the 12 weeks ended 05 September, 2020.

However, for Coca-Cola, unit case volume trends have continued to improve in the September quarter. For instance, in the previous quarter, the APAC region reported a unit case volume decline of 18%, primarily due to strict lockdowns in India, the company said then.

“Since the company's last earnings update in July, global unit case volume trends have continued to improve. The pace in the third quarter was more gradual than the second quarter, and the percentage decline in global unit case volume for October month-to-date was low single digits," the company said in business environment update.

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