The stimulant-free cola appears to be in short supply.

By Mike Pomranz
November 10, 2020
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Bad news for cola fans hoping to sleep their way through the rest of 2020. America is apparently facing a caffeine-free cola shortage—and it’s unclear when non-buzz-worthy products like Caffeine-Free Coca-Cola may return to their former glory.

Writing for The Takeout last week, self-proclaimed seasonal soda addict Nick Leggin explained that he went on his annual search for his cola of choice—Caffeine-Free Coca-Cola—only to find empty shelves everywhere he turned. After disappointment at his favorite local grocery store, the Illinois resident was also unable to score any stimulant-free goodies at Walmart, Target, and Jewel-Osco. Apparently, it wasn’t just bad luck, a second-hand account from a Coke delivery driver suggested that Caffeine-Free Coca-Cola hadn’t been sent out for “months.”

Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

"We and our retail partners are doing what we can to make sure store shelves are stocked with the products people want. However, the increased demand on aluminum has presented a challenge at times for us and our partners. We are implementing contingency plans as best we can, and in some cases, that means prioritizing some brands over others.  Caffeine Free Coca-Cola is still being produced, but in limited quantities based on location.  Our hope is to return it to full capacity in the near future."

Indeed, as has been the case for most businesses, the pandemic has been tough on the Coca-Cola Company. The beverage giant was already shedding less successful brands last year, something that’s continued into 2020—including notable goodbyes to Zico and Odwalla. Additionally, an aluminum can shortage has reportedly forced drink makers to be more selective of which existing products they do package, leaving lesser-selling items to be bumped for the big moneymakers. So though it’s doubtful that Caffeine-Free Coke would get the permanent ax, it’s easy to see how, given the choice of which products to temporarily sideline, caffeine-free variations could go first.

Meanwhile, Leggin pointed out that attempting to find these sodas online wasn’t much easier. On Amazon, one store is selling six-packs of two-liter bottles for a wildly-expensive $10 per bottle. And The Takeout isn’t the only site lamenting a lack of this drink: Houston’s KRPC 2 recently included Caffeine-Free Coca-Cola on a list of items locals were struggling to find.

That said, as with any nationally sold product, regional differences may apply. Looking on Target.com for the New York City area, over a dozen locations within 50 miles are listing two-liter bottles in stock for the reasonable price of $1.89. And even in the Chicago area, some 12-packs of cans (for just $4.99) can be found—though more stores seem to have it listed as out of stock than in. And then, poking around Denver, only one Target on the outskirts of town says they have cans in stock.