Coca-Cola to launch Stevia sweetened soft drinks in 2018

Coca-Cola has announced it will pilot a new Coca-Cola drink sweetened with Stevia instead of sugar next year.

The beverage giant made the announcement recently during its Investor Day Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

According to the company, Coca-Cola Stevia No Sugar will be 100% sweetened with Stevia, a plant-based sweetener that has zero calories and does not have an aftertaste, a problem the company has faced with previous formulations such as Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero.

This would not be the first time Coke has used Stevia in drinks. In fact, the company currently markets Coca-Cola Life, which is sweetened with Stevia and cane sugar in 30 markets around the world. The combination results in 35% fewer calories than the Classic Coca-Cola.

The difference in the new initiative is that Coca-Cola Stevia No Sugar will be sweetened with Stevia alone.

Coke also launched a reformulated Coca-Cola No Sugar earlier this year, (replacing Coca-Cola zero) sweetened with aspartame and acesulfame with 0.3 calories per 100ml serving.

Beverage companies like Coke and Pepsi Cola have been actively searching for naturally-sourced zero calorie sweetener that would taste like sugar in soft drinks as consumers flee from sugar-based drinks due to its negative effects on health. While Coke has been diversifying its product portfolio to include more drinks with fewer calories such as teas and water, the fact remains that soft drinks contribute about 70% of the company’s annual revenue. As consumers flee from sugary drinks, so has the company’s sales suffered. Coca-Cola annual sales have declined 10% to $41.9bn in 2016 from $46.5bn in 2011.

The soft drinks maker partnered with a Stevia research firm PureCircle on a joint-development and supply agreement for its patented Rebaudioside M glycoside (Reb M), a Steviol glycoside that imparts “a clean, sugar-like sweetness” compared to previous forms of Stevia used by the company.

Coca-Cola said it will start piloting the new Coca-Cola Stevia No Sugar in yet to be determined market(s) in the first half of 2018.

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