The Europe, Eurasia and Middle East strategic business unit achieved strong results in 2003, both in core brands and in new beverages.
Net operating revenues increased a strong 25 percent to $6.6 billion, due in part to favorable foreign currency trends. Unit case volume increased 5 percent compared with 2002, driven by innovation, strong marketing strategies and favorable summer weather, and despite the impact of the German deposit law on nonreturnable packages. We made significant progress in the highly profitable immediate consumption packages, resulting in volume gains and increased retail dollar share.
In 2003, we successfully launched Vanilla Coke in 14 countries. We introduced Diet Coke vanilla in Great Britain and Coca-Cola light lemon in eight countries.
Powerful marketing programs for Coca-Cola were led by "Chihuahua," a highly integrated marketing platform that began in Spain in 2002 and spread quickly throughout Europe in 2003. Television partnerships, DJ tours and packaging promotions combined to catapult the Chihuahua song to the top 40 in 11 countries, including seven "number ones."
In Spain, the Company's Coca-Cola "Movimiento" Web site reached more than 850,000 consumers, each spending an average of 45 minutes a day gaming, networking and competing for prizes.
The Diet Coke/Coca-Cola light family of brands experienced compound annual volume growth of 12 percent between 2001 and 2003, tapping the strong consumer trend for low-calorie products. Marketing efforts have focused on brand and package innovation, entertainment communication, tailormade promotions and engaging consumers with unique beverage sampling experiences.
After a decrease in volume growth, partially due to the implementation of a deposit law on nonreturnable packages in the first quarter of 2003, our business in Germany began to post quarterly improvement. New packages and initiatives contributed to growth in the remainder of the year and demonstrated the ability of the Coca-Cola system to adapt...