The Coca-Cola Company has confirmed to BeverageDaily.com that it has launched stevia-sweetened varieties of Sprite and Nestea in France with 30% less sugar – the first roll-out using its headline brands on a major market since European Commission (EC) approval of stevia.
A Coca-Cola spokeswoman said the launch last Tuesday (March 15) using stevia ingredient Truvia (developed with Cargill) had nothing to do with taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages in France, since legislation in this respect (introduced in January 2012) also included ‘light drinks’.
EC approval of steviol glycosides (sweet compounds from the stevia plant) in November 2011 had given Coca-Cola more options to innovate and develop the best-tasting drinks for consumers, she explained.
Fanta Still blazed trail
French approval of stevia in 2009 (under a rule allowing member states to approve ingredients for a limited two-year period) led Coca-Cola France to reformulate Fanta Still using Truvia for a January 2010 launch, but until now the company has not launched any other such products within the EU.
The spokeswoman said: “The introduction of great tasting Sprite and Nestea sweetened with stevia, with 30% less sugar content, in France demonstrates how the addition of stevia to the range of sweeteners we already use gives us even more options to innovate and develop the best-tasting drinks for our consumers,”
“We will continue to innovate across our beverage portfolio using the full range of sweeteners, to deliver great products with lower calories that meet consumers' tastes.”
Coke strived to provide beverages for “every taste, lifestyle and occasion, while reducing the average calorie content of our total volume of sparkling beverages,” the spokeswoman said.
‘Exploring’ stevia-extract sweeteners...
“We actively promote low and no-calorie options, while widening the availability and choice of smaller pack sizes," she added.
But the spokeswoman refused to be drawn on future stevia-based launches in France and on other key markets, and said that Coca-Cola would not disclose future commercial plans.
“The addition of stevia to the range of sweeteners we already use in our drinks gave us even more options to innovate and develop the best-tasting drinks for our consumers,” she added.
“The company will continue exploring the use of stevia extract sweeteners across several beverage categories and across markets, as our focus is to deliver great-tasting products that meet consumer demand.”
Truvia uses major stevia glycoside Rebaudioside A (Reb A), which is 300 times sweeter than sugar but has no calories.