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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Seeking to Boost Poor Sales, Coca-Cola Makes Price Cuts

Attempting to regain market share hit heavily by Russia's economic woes, Coca-Cola decided Wednesday to cut retail prices 20 percent on half-liter bottles, its most popular line, officials said.

"Starting from April 15, the retail price on Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite and Bon Aqua will be set at 8 rubles (32 cents)," said Dmitry Chukseyev, public relations manager for Coca-Cola Bottlers Eurasia.

Coca-Cola will print a "suggested price" of 8 rubles on every bottle cap. Currently most bottles of this size are priced at 10 rubles in retail outlets in Moscow.

However, the multinational's products remain pricier than those of many domestic competitors and several Coca-Cola lines are now more expensive to buy here than in some parts of the United States, said Maria Vakatova, public relations director for ComCon, media and market research company.

Coca-Cola's price cut is most likely aimed at grabbing sales from its global rival, Pepsico, with whom it accounts for roughly 70 percent of the Russian market. Pepsico could not be reached for comment.

Analysts said the move represented a decision on Coca-Cola's part to sacrifice some of its until-now extremely high profit rates for market share.

"Coca-Cola was making whopping profits on the Russian market," Vakatova said.

"But lowering the price for half-a-liter bottles will increase sales," she said.

Coca-Cola announced late last month that its first-quarter sales for Europe and Latin America would be down as much as 5 percent.

The consumer goods market has seen demand drop to 15 percent below 1997 levels, thanks to a massive decrease in purchasing power for most households.

Soft drinks have been especially hard hit, with sales down by 60 percent to 70 percent since the August crash.