Coca-Cola bottlers are feeling flat, even as U.S. grocery sales sparkle

By Richa Naidu and Martinne Geller

CHICAGO/LONDON (Reuters) – Martin Williams’ great-grandfather founded their Coca-Cola distribution business in Corinth, Mississippi, in 1907, just a handful of years after Coke was first sold in bottles across the United States.

He’s part of the fourth generation to run it, and he’s determined not to be the last.

Williams’ business is one of nearly 70 U.S. Coca-Cola “bottlers” – third-party, independent companies that put Coke and other beverages into cans and bottles and deliver the drinks to retailers and restaurants in every corner of the country.

The future of such companies is not