Countries That Surprisingly Don't Sell Coca-Cola

By Ellen Kershner on June 4 2020 in World Facts

Coca Cola , the most popular soft drink in the world.
Coca Cola , the most popular soft drink in the world.
  • Coke was first introduced in 1886 by Dr. John S. Pemberton, a pharmacist.
  • There are only two countries on the globe that do not currently sell Coke: Cuba and North Korea.
  • The Korean War took place from 1950 to 1953, and during this time the United States imposed trade sanctions on North Korea.
  • The United States currently holds a commercial, economic, and financial embargo against the Republic of Cuba.

Coca-Cola has long held the position as the most popular soft drink in the world, but sometimes is loses its spot to Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and Diet Coke. Though people do not drink as much soda as they used to, Coca-Cola is still pulling rank. There are only two countries on the globe that do not currently sell Coke: Cuba and North Korea.

Coca-cola was first introduced in 1886 by Dr. John S. Pemberton, a pharmacist. The original recipe contained alcohol, and was also sold as a medicine in soda fountain stores. It was thought to cure headaches, heartburn, and nausea. 

Atlanta businessman Asa G. Candler later bought Pemberton’s business and acquired the rights to the formula. The Coca-Cola Company was incorporated in 1892, and things took off from there. The line has expanded to include other beverages like Sprite, Fanta, and Schweppes, but Coke is the consistent bubbly favorite.

Gaining Popularity

Certificate of Purchase Class A Stock for 20 Shares of The Coca-Cola Company, issued 20. February 1929

Robert W. Woodruff expanded the Coca-Cola Company after 1923, and soon enough “six-packs” were being distributed and sold. Coca-Cola sponsored the 1928 Olympic Games, taking sales to a new level. During World War II, U.S. soldiers increased demand for the soda, and from the 1940s to the 1960s, more and more bottling plants were built. This allowed the company to build its foundation for global sales.

Starting in the 1980s, Coca Cola became a public company, Coca‑Cola Enterprises Inc. Soon after that Diet Coke was introduced, and became the best-selling low-calorie soft drink on the planet. Four years later saw a change in the soda’s formula, and it was hailed as New Coke. It was not successful, and the company soon went back to the original recipe. This was renamed as Coca-Cola Classic.

Soda is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and Coca-Cola’s revenues have been reported in excess of $23 billion a year. 

Countries Not Selling Coca-cola

Cuba

Even though Coca-Cola opened a bottling plant here in 1906, production was halted in 1962 after Fidel Castro led the Cuban Revolution, which ousted former President Batista. Castro’s government began seizing assets owned by all foreign countries that had a presence there, and a trade embargo was initiated. This seizure began on August 6, 1960, and targeted American companies. Coca-Cola moved out, never to return. Since the United States currently holds a commercial, economic, and financial embargo against the Republic of Cuba, no American companies may trade with Cuba.

North Korea

The Korean War took place from 1950 to 1953, and during this time the United States imposed trade sanctions on North Korea. When North Korea bombed South Korean during the 1980s, these sanctions were tightened further. From 1950 to 2008, trade between the U.S. and North Korea was also restricted, and North Korea has not distributed or sold Coca-Cola since the Korean War.

Temporary Setbacks

A Coca-cola store in China.

Burma (Myanmar) was Coca-Cola-free for many years, after American companies were banned following economic sanctions that the U.S. had applied against the country’s repressive government. Things changed in 2012, when Coca-Cola announced a $200 million, five-year investment plan. A bottling plant was opened in the country’s biggest city, Hmawbi Township. Burma is located in Southeast Asia, and is bordered by Thailand, Laos, China, India, and Bangladesh.

Coca-Cola first arrived in China in 1927, and enjoyed widespread popularity. When communist leader Mao Zedong took over in 1949 though, many imported goods such as Coca-Cola were banned. Coke came back in 1979, and China is now the company’s third-largest market (Mexico is #2). Vietnam citizens also had Coca-Cola taken away for a number of years due to a U.S. trade embargo related to the Vietnam War. The embargo was lifted in 1994.

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