Sorry Irn-Bru, Scotland’s not the only place where Coca-Cola is not on top 6

Sorry Irn-Bru, Scotland’s not the only place where Coca-Cola is not on top


A world map highlighting Scotland as the only country in the world where the most popular drink is not made by Coca-Cola has gone viral.

It claims the soft drinks giant is not as high-selling as Irn-Bru, the popular drink produced by AG Barr.

Ferret Fact Service | Scotlands impartial fact check project

The tweet with the image posted by @OnlMaps was shared by Irn-Bru’s account, and has been retweeted more than 18,000 times and amassed more than 47,000 likes.

Articles on the viral claim were carried in The Scottish Sun, Daily Record and Glasgow Live.

Sorry Irn-Bru, Scotland’s not the only place where Coca-Cola is not on top 7

Ferret Fact service assessed this claim and found it to be False


The map itself appears to have been made by a Reddit user and posted on the site’s /r/MapPorn section on 14 August.

The source information for the map was attributed to a BBC documentary called ‘Secrets of the Superbrands: Food’ which was broadcast on 7 June 2011.

In the show, presenter Alex Riley says: “Coke or a Coca-Cola-owned drink is the number one soft drink everywhere in the world, except in one small country where it’s been kept off the top spot by a local brew ”

There are differing opinions on how many countries are in the world, but the UN recognises around 193 independent countries.

The claim shown in the world map is that, apart from Scotland, every country has either Coke or a Coca-Cola product as its drink of choice.

The drinks company had a global revenue in 2016 of around $42bn, and exists in over 200 markets around the world.

According to statistical database, it had a global carbonated beverages market share of 41.8 per cent in 2015, with closest rival PepsiCo at just 20.5 per cent.

However, while Coca-Cola has a truly global influence, there are a handful of countries where the company has not managed to dominate.

Primarily, this is down to issues outwith Coca-Cola’s control such as international relations.

For example, the Caribbean island nation of Cuba has been in dispute with the US for more than 100 years, and there has been a US trade embargo in place between the two countries since 1960.

This was in reaction to the nationalisation of all US businesses operating in the country by the socialist leader, Fidel Castro.

Coca-Cola has not been officially imported into the country since 1962. The company says any reports of the soft drink being sold in the country are with regards to smuggled Coca-Cola. Local brands of cola dominate the market alongside uniquely Cuban drinks.

After President Obama initiated a thawing of relations between the two countries and relaxed some of the sanctions placed on Cuba in 2015, Coca-Cola announced they would return to the market. This has yet to take place.

The map also optimistically suggests that Coca-Cola products are most popular in North Korea.

Again, this would mean the company defying a trade embargo imposed by the US in 1950. While recent media reports appeared to show Coke being served in a North Korean restaurant, there is no official export of Coca-Cola products to the country.

The company recently re-entered Myanmar after a 60-year period where the country was under sanctions. These were suspended by the US in 2012, with a Coca-Cola bottling plant being built a year later.

Ferret Fact Service verdict: False

While Irn-Bru’s popularity in Scotland is not in doubt, it is not the only country where Coca-Cola has competition for market dominance. US trade embargoes on Cuba and North Korea mean that the Coca-Cola company cannot legally enter those markets, meaning local brands dominate the soft drinks market. While there have been reports of Coke being sold in both countries, they are likely to have been smuggled in and not widely available.

This claim is false

Photo thanks to Mary Hutchison, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Ferret Fact Service (FFS) is a non-partisan fact checker, and signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles.

All the sources used in our checks are publicly available and the FFS fact-checking methodology can be viewed here.

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  1. However you have to take into account that in the countries that Coca Cola is legally sold in, it remains Scotland which is doesn’t dominate the local market and thus it’s true. Although conversely the map should have noted the two countries it’s not legally sold in as well for it to be fair.

  2. This has never been the claim, the claim is that Scotland is the only country where coke is sold that has another brand at #1.

    It also significantly predates 2017 as we were told this back when I was a child and I’m well into my 30s now.

    Do better.

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