Coca-Cola® is an internationally recognized drink, popular in many countries throughout the world. The company that produces the soft drink has an interesting way of distributing it around the world, which many people may not realize. You don’t get exactly the same Coke® in India that you do in the US, because bottling of the drink is franchised.
What occurs is the following: the company produces a concentrate with the patented formula for Coca-Cola®. This remains the same wherever you purchase the product. This concentrate is then sold to companies who have purchased franchises to bottle Coca-Cola® in their area. Each bottling company adds water and whatever sweeteners are used for that specific type of coke.
Slight variations may occur if the bottlers don’t conform to standards of production, for instance using less of the concentrate than is recommended, or changing the type of sweetener used. Though the formula for Coca-Cola® concentrate doesn’t change, there can be slight differences in sweetness since bottling agencies may change the amount of sweeteners used to fit the local population’s palate, and some versions of the cola are said to be sweeter or sharper in other countries. The United States has seen, especially in countries close to Mexico, a rise in the amount of Mexican Coca-Cola® imported into the US and sold at a number of Mexican and Latin or South American grocery stores. Cola aficionados say there are differences between south of the border and American produced versions of the drink. They cite the fact that most Mexican bottlers add cane sugar instead of corn syrup, and many people prefer the Mexican version, though at first the taste can be a little unusual.
Thus the main difference is the way in which the formula for Coca-Cola® has ingredients added to it from one country to another. The type of water used may create a major difference in both taste and safety. Some countries, particularly emerging countries with high levels of pollution have been under investigation for producing Coca-Cola® with alarmingly high levels of pesticides. In 2003, for instance, a government independent investigatory agency in India found that water filtration was not ridding the water of substances like DDT and Malathion.
Several soft drinks in India, including Pepsi®, were found to have toxic and unsafe levels of these chemicals. This led to a decline in sales in Coca-Cola® that lasted for several years, and an outright ban on selling Coke® in certain parts of India for a short while. Technically water filtration should eliminate most of these chemicals, but the presence of higher amounts of the chemicals in certain areas may mean filtration methods aren’t adequate to the task. Coca-Cola® has defended their product and claims they test all their soft drinks, wherever produced, to make sure they meet safety standards. They also stand by the formula, though they do recognized small differences in taste when it is bottled outside of the US.