New Zealand is the first country to launch the 100%-stevia-sweetened Coke, which the company says it was able to sweeten with stevia alone and not in combination with other types of sweeteners or sugar.
Photo from Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola has launched a new Coke product that is sweetened entirely from stevia (Stevia rebaudiana). New Zealand is the first country to launch the 100%-stevia-sweetened Coke, which the company says it was able to sweeten with stevia alone and not in combination with other types of sweeteners or sugar.
George Droumev, technical director, Coca-Cola South Pacific, stated in a press release that while consumers want the familiar Coca-Cola taste, they are also looking for ways to cut sugar from their diets. “They want the same taste as the drinks they grew up with, but don’t want the [calories],” he said. “There has always been some sort of trade-off. Our task was to solve all of these challenges.”
One of the biggest challenges in formulating with stevia is flavor. Steviol glycosides, or stevia’s sweetening compounds, can impart bitter flavor off-notes. Droumev said that this new Coke product, however, sidesteps the potential flavor pitfalls by using stevia that is extracted from “a very specific part of the stevia leaf as a sweetener,” which he said results in a great tasting beverage with a clean aftertaste.
Said Droumev: “Our team and our partners have spent almost 10 years working with stevia, a sugar alternative from…the stevia plant. It was not as simple as finding a sweetener and swapping that out for sugar. It had to have a taste that people will love. Coca-Cola Stevia No Sugar is the result of thousands of hours working with the stevia plant to get the best from it.”
Coca-Cola says that this new sugar-free cola replaces the company’s current reduced-calorie cola, Coca-Cola Life, which is sweetened with a combination of stevia and sugar. According to an article from Marketing Week, in 2017, Coca-Cola began phasing out its Life brand in order to “make a clearer distinction between its sugar and sugar-free options.”