(NaturalNews) The Coca-Cola Company has announced the launch of a new project designed to devise ingredients for beverages from traditional Chinese medicines. Coca-Cola has established a permanent research center in Beijing, at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences. Researchers from the company will work together with staff from the academy to analyze traditional Chinese medicines for potential nutritional benefits, then to figure out ways to incorporate these ingredients into beverage formulas.
The move comes as sales of carbonated beverages continue to decline in the United States and Europe as consumers seek healthier alternatives. According to Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), the Coca-Cola Company's primary North American and Western European bottler, CCE sales volume has decreased by 4 percent in North America and continues to face "great challenges" in the United Kingdom. Earnings per share fell nearly 10 percent in 2007.
Overall global revenues, however, increased by 5 percent in the first fiscal quarter. CCE attributed the rise to the strong sales of water, juice and sports drinks in North America and the sale of sugar-free Coke Zero in France and the Netherlands.
Researching Chinese medicine is not Coca-Cola's only tactic for averting falling profits and remaining the largest beverage company in the world. The company has also entered a tentative agreement with coffee company Illy to team up in the sale of ready-to-drink coffee products. The companies hope to have reached a formal agreement by the end of 2007.
"This partnership demonstrates our commitment to meeting evolving consumer demands while creating additional value for our system, our customers and our shareowners," said Coca-Cola Chief Operating Officer Muhtar Kent.
In the United Kingdom, Coke is trying new marketing strategies that include renaming sodas as "carbonated beverages." Thus far, these efforts have seen no apparent return.
"You can call it what you want," countered consumer health advocate Mike Adams, "but it's still sugar water." Adams is the author of The Five Soft Drink Monsters, a book that helps people overcome addiction to soda pop.