The Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Montross, while no longer operational, produced Northern Neck Ginger Ale several years ago.

Coca-Cola plans to retire a long list of brands by December 31, including Northern Neck Ginger Ale.

But Governor Ralph Northam said, “not so fast.” 

 “We have reached out to @Coca-Cola and are doing everything we can to keep this popular Virginia staple on our shelves,” he said in a tweet. 

Coca-Cola’s streamlining plan

Coca-Cola wants to prioritize brands with the greatest potential for growth and scale.

“This isn’t about paring down to a specific number of product offerings… The objective is to drive impact and growth. It’s about continuing to follow the consumer and being very intentional in deciding which of our brands are most deserving of our investments and resources,” explains a press release provided by Kate Hartman of Coca-Cola.

Up to this point, the Coca-Cola system supported all SKUs with similar effort, including time, money and energy, but all of those products are not seeing the same return.

Coca-Cola said it had a team go through its portfolio, which includes hundreds of brands, and identify products that are losing relevance while earmarking the thriving global, regional and local beverages with track records of sequential, incremental growth. 

“And now, we’re creating oxygen to grow offerings we believe have the opportunity to be bigger and more scalable,” the company says.

Coca-Cola’s plans to streamline were underway “well before the coronavirus outbreak,” but changes in shopping behaviors and challenges in the supply chain drove the company to fast track the plan.

One of the challenges Coca-Cola and other beverage-makers faced was a shortage of aluminum cans. 

Northern Neck Ginger Ale started disappearing from local stores early in the summer. Coca-Cola Consolidated, the company that was contracted to produce the brand, confirmed that it was due to an industry-wide shortage of can.

The company’s, vice president of communications, also confirmed that distribution of Northern Neck Ginger Ale was still mostly limited to the Northern Neck.

Although Coca-Cola may not view Northern Neck Ginger Ale as a brand with high growth potential, it had a loyal fan base, that apparently includes Virginia’s governor.

“I grew up with Northern Neck Ginger Ale and am among the many fans who would hate to see it fizzle out.” Northam said on Twitter.

But the question is whether Northam’s effort to save the soda will influence Coca-Cola’s plans.

Hartman confirmed Northam’s office reached out. And she said Coca-Cola has been in touch. But, “at this point, we can’t share any additional details,” she said.

At the time of press, Northam’s office hadn’t responded to inquiries about Coca-Cola’s response or regarding what, if any, options the governor has to intervene.