Coca-Cola Enterprises, the world's biggest bottler of Coke, is switching to a box that stacks six rows two cans deep, with the idea that a longer box will fit better in refrigerators. They will be sold in the US firstly, targeting Chicago and Georgia, joining two smaller Coke bottlers that have already made the change in several other Southern states.
No decision has been made on whether to expand the "fridge pack" across the country, although such a move is likely at some point, said officials at Coca-Cola North America and Coca-Cola Enterprises, which bottles Coke products in 46 states. Coca-Cola owns 40 per cent of the Atlanta-based bottler.
"If you get the consumer in the mindset of saying, `Oh, I'm supposed to put 12-packs of Coke in my refrigerator instead of in my pantry,' that's very exciting," said Skip Carpenter, a beverage analyst with Thomas Weisel Partners.
"That box hasn't changed in 25 years," said Gene Rackley, a spokesman for Coke Enterprises on Wednesday. "This is big stuff for us."
The fridge pack was born two years ago in Australia where tests did well. Last summer, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated of Charlotte, North Carolina, introduced the box in the Carolinas.
Consolidated spokesman Lauren Steele said the fridge pack was credited for a third of the 3 per cent sales growth the company had last year.
"It's one of those simple ideas that as soon as you see it, you go, `Why didn't we do that before?'" Steele said.
Coca-Cola United of Birmingham, Alabama, is also changing to the fridge pack, part of a trend officials at Coca-Cola North America expect to spread among the more than seven-dozen US Coke bottlers.
The three bottlers together represent more than 80 per cent of Coke's US bottling capacity.
"The goal is for everyone to have a box that flies off the shelves," said Mart Martin, a spokesman for Coke North America. "The success that fridge pack has enjoyed, I think, is certainly going to get the attention of the bottling system."