- Obama military downsizing leaves U.S. too weak to counter global threats, panel finds
- Sen. Tom Coburn vows to slow down budget-busting bills ahead of recess
- Obama fantasizes about more executive power, signs new order on federal contractors
- Clintons call Klein, Halper, Kessler ‘a Hat Trick of despicable actors’: report
- Boehner accuses Obama of ‘legacy of lawlessness’
- Pro-marijuana group claims responsibility for Brooklyn Bridge flag swap
- Young adults shun Obamacare mostly due to cost: survey
- Stabbing attack on transgender girl, 15, was ‘bias motivated,’ police say
- LGBT adults still lean overwhelmingly toward Democratic Party
- Lawmakers rattled by Syria genocide horrors, call on Obama to act
Soda companies racing for a new sweet spot
Question of the Day
Coca-Cola, based in Atlanta, says it’s currently testing additional drinks that use stevia and other natural sweeteners but declined to give details. The tests are part of the ongoing “home-use tests” the company conducts, in which consumers may be given a six-pack of a new product to try over the course of a week.
To accelerate the pace of such trials, Coca-Cola two years ago dedicated a production line at one of its plants solely to churning out test beverages. But taste isn’t the only consideration for the world’s biggest soda maker.
“Some of the very exciting (sweeteners) we’re playing with are really small in terms of production and planting, and they need to be nurtured,” says Katie Bayne, president of Coca-Cola’s North American soda business.
Coca-Cola also is testing versions of its Sprite and Fanta that use stevia in Atlanta, Detroit, Louisville, Ky. and Memphis, Tenn. The drinks have about half the calories of regular Sprite and Fanta (70 per can, instead of 140 or 160, respectively). But the “Select” drinks fall short of the ideal because they have sugar.
PepsiCo, based in Purchase, N.Y., is also on the hunt for new drinks that use natural, no-calorie sweeteners. In 2010, the company entered a $62 million, four-year deal with food flavor company Senomyx Inc. to develop natural sweeteners and “taste enhancers” that can intensify sweetness. Coca-Cola also previously had an eight-year contract with Senomyx; neither of the partnerships has yet produced any products for commercial use.
Dr Pepper Snapple Group, the nation’s third-largest soda maker, also is searching for the right combination. The company’s line of flavored sodas, such as Sunkist and A&W Root Beer, may make it easier to mask the taste of natural sweeteners like stevia than with colas.
At a beverage industry conference earlier this year, Dr Pepper’s Chief Financial Officer Marty Ellen said he thinks a “sweetener breakthrough” is achievable in the next few years.
Recreating the exact taste of extremely valuable brands such as Coke and Pepsi is a high-stakes game and companies don’t want to rush any drinks to the market. But making a natural cola that doesn’t have any calories isn’t impossible. Smaller companies such as Zevia, based in Culver City, Calif., already make such colas using stevia.
Zevia is now sold in 10,500 locations _ including Kroger and Whole Foods _ up from just 850 locations four years ago. CEO Paddy Spence doesn’t think Coke and Pepsi’s efforts to come up with their own zero-calorie drinks will threaten his company.
“When consumers see a brand all of a sudden with different positioning, they see right through that,” Spence said. “They’ll say `you’re a sugar soda company that has a couple different stevia products.’”
Still, considering their enormous resources, it’s likely that soda companies will eventually find a way to make natural drinks with no calories that taste good, says Mike Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
“If you look 10 years ahead, we’re going to see a different marketplace for sodas,” he said.
__AP Writer Jason Keyser contributed from Chicago.
Follow Candice Choi on http://www.twitter.com/candicechoi
TWT Video Picks
Both parties recognize the Democrats' scam
- Inside the Ring: Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- Report: 40% of weapons sent to Afghanistan are unaccounted for
- Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- Sarah Palin's online channel hits snag as Stephen Colbert buys similar URL
- 3 African leaders cancel trip to U.S. over Ebola outbreak; Obama still plans summit
- Feds accept boredom, lack of work as excuses for surfing porn on clock
- Catholic League slams Obama: 'Do Christian lives mean so little to you?'
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world