Claire Phoenix is FoodBev Media managing editor – magazines. This is a personal blog and views expressed are her own.

18 Apr 2013 (Updated 19 Apr 2013)

How the beverage industry is helping to combat obesity

Congress speakers can be somewhat dry and vague, giving very little away. However, I was impressed by the amount of data given by keynote speaker and president of Unesda, Dominique Reiniche (also president of Coca-Cola Europe) on day two of the Global Beverages Congress in Warsaw.

Dominique was keen to show how the beverage sector is resilient and strong.

"The beverages sector has grown 1.2% over the past 10 years and through the economic recession," she said. She also underlined the contribution made to employment, with apparently 700,000 jobs created in Europe by The Coca-Cola Company, and revenue of €32bn.

“We need to tell this story more and spread these strong numbers about helping the EU economy and unemployment," she said. "Also, you are never so innovative as when in times of crisis, simply because you have to be."

Following on from the Sustainability Awards the night before, she added: “We know young people are very interested in recycling, and if each country got together and focused on one thing, it would be a stronger message.”

Dominique also commented on how the beverage industry needs to speak up on all that it's doing to combat obesity: "Every calorie counts and there is no miracle, but the big advantage we have is that thanks to ingredients such as the plant-based sweetener stevia, we can offer drinks with zero calories, and no other food group can do that.

"We have seen close to 10% growth on Coke Zero and by supplying the same great taste with fewer calories, we know that consumers are going for this.

“We are working in one of the most dynamic sectors in Europe. We cannot please everyone all of the time, but people respect courage and boldness."

She ended by showing new the Coca-Cola advert, which reveals that a can of regular coke has 139 calories, and for the body to use this up takes 10 minutes of dancing or 25 minutes of walking the dog. Courageous, bold and an impressive move in anti-obesity education.