Muhtar Kent, will step down from that role next year and be succeeded by the company’s No. 2 executive, James Quincey, at a time when people are drinking less sugary soda, including Coke, the company’s flagship drink.

Mr. Quincey, who, as Coca-Cola’s chief operating officer, has long been expected to become the next chief executive, will take over leadership of the world’s largest beverage maker on May 1, the company said Friday. Mr. Kent, 64, will remain as chairman of the board.

Mr. Quincey, 51, has led Coca-Cola’s drive to cut the amount of sugar in its drinks and said on Friday that he would continue to do so in his new role. He also said he would keep pushing to add more low-calorie beverages and to offer soft drinks in smaller cans and bottles.

He also said he wanted to stay relevant with customers by continuing to “digitize” the business, selling Coca-Cola drinks online through food-delivery companies and whatever other methods customers use to make such purchases in the future.

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