Illustration for article titled Coronavirus threatens our precious supply of Coke
Photo: eskaylim (iStock)

I’ve been trying to keep calm in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, reminding myself how we’re all perpetually in danger of contracting any sort of new drug-resistant mutations of illnesses, like MRSA, or pneumococcal meningitis, or the flu. I’m still eating Chinese food, because I’m not a bigot, but I’m avoiding cruise ships, which, to be fair, mostly has to do with my inability to do the limbo. I definitely should be far more concerned about journalism-induced heart disease than coronavirus, but today I learned that the global pandemic may threaten my precious Cherry Coke Zero, and I am totally losing my freakin’ crap.

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In its latest annual report, Coca-Cola has acknowledged that some ingredients in its supply chain have been affected by the viral outbreak. Knowing that certain consumers (me) might burn Atlanta to the ground a second time if they can no longer get Cherry Coke Zero, the company has an existing system of alternative supply chains that are able to provide short-term solutions in emergencies such as this one. However, Coca-Cola warns that if the pandemic continues to wreck havoc in China, there could be shortages in the near future.

“Our supply chain for non-nutritive sweeteners and certain other ingredients for our products includes suppliers in China,” says the report. “As a result of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, beginning in January 2020, our suppliers in China have experienced some delays in the production and export of these ingredients. We have initiated contingency supply plans and do not foresee a short-term impact due to these delays. However, we may see tighter supplies of some of these ingredients in the longer term should production or export operations in China deteriorate.”

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Coco-Cola also addressed the well being of its Chinese employees in the report, stating they are being provided with face masks and hand sanitizer and that Coke is installing temperature screening in its offices and factories, and setting up “health monitoring mechanisms” throughout the company. The report also states the company is “donating to organizations that are working diligently to support patients and contain the virus.”

Coca-Cola isn’t the only company facing these issues: earlier this month, Pepsi was forced to close one of its six Chinese manufacturing plants—the one that was located in Wuhan—in response to the outbreak. So far Pepsi is claiming that coronavirus is, as of now, not negatively affecting the company, though as the pandemic begins to creep across the globe and countries worrying about their abilities to contain the virus, that could very well change. Maybe this will finally force me to start drinking more water, which is probably much better for me than my out-of-control Cherry Coke Zero habit.

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Allison Robicelli is The Takeout staff writer, a former professional chef, author of three books, and The People's Hot Pocket Princess. Questions about recipes/need cooking advice? Tweet @Robicellis.

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