The Coca-Cola Company’s trademark brands led the company’s total unit case volume growth of 3% in the first quarter (Q1) of 2018. Coca-Cola grew by 4% globally, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar experienced double digit global acceleration and Diet Coke returned to growth in North America. All category clusters experienced growth in terms of unit case volume.

Trademark Coca-Cola also grew 6% in global retail value in the first quarter.

The company claimed the improving global economy aided growth in the non-alcoholic beverage sector and it was able to increase its market share in the category in Q1.

It also saw 5% growth in organic revenue across all operating segments, which it sees as being driven by concrete sales growth of 4% and price/mix growth of 1%.

Coca-Cola also benefitted from the lift, shift and scale of its products around the world in the first quarter of 2018. Two notable examples are Fuze tea, which was launched in 37 European countries, and Topo Chico, which increased its distribution in the US convenience retail by 25%.

Its operating margins expanded by 220 basis points and comparable operating margin increased by 600 basis points as a result of Coca-Cola selling lower margin bottling businesses and its productivity efforts.

However, the company saw its net revenues decline by 16% in Q1 to $7.6bn, which has been attributed to bottler refranchising. Cash flow was also affected by refranchising bottling operations in North America, it declined by 20% to $613m.

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Free cash flow, however, increased by 5% to $339m driven by reduced capital investment needs. Earnings per share from continuing operations increased 13% to $0.31.

The Coca-Cola Company president and CEO said: “We’re encouraged with our first quarter performance as we continue our evolution as a consumer-centric, total beverage company.

“We have the right strategies in place and remain confident in our ability to achieve our full year guidance.”

Looking ahead in 2018, Coca-Cola says it is on track to deliver its full year targets and expects to see 4% organic revenue growth, significant operating margin expansion, as well as comparable annual earnings per share from continuing operations to grow by between 8 and 10%.