Coca-Cola will soon begin selling beverages sweetened with a new zero-calorie sweetener made from stevia, a South American herb, Business Week reported this week.
Stevia has been used as a sweetener by the Guarani Indians of Paraguay for hundreds of years, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration only this week gave its approval to drinks sweetened with stevia-based sweeteners. Stevia sweeteners have been popular sellers in natural food stores for years, but the FDA’s hesitation to sanction its safety caused major soft drink companies to hesitateâ€”until now.
Two versions of a stevia-based beverage sweetener have been developed by Coke and Pepsi. Both Pepsi’s PureVia and Coke’s Truvia, marketed by Cargill, are made from rebiana, a stevia-based extract.
Coke announced it will begin selling three flavors of an Odwalla juice drink sweetened with stevia, The Wall Street Journal reports, and a new stevia-based sweetened version of Sprite, called “Sprite Green” is expected go on sale as early as next month. PepsiCo has two drinks made with stevia ready for market: a SoBe Lifewater beverage and Trop 50, an orange juice drink.
The Dr Pepper Snapple Group is another beverage company looking closely at stevia.
p(left caption). Stevia plant
Sales of carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) have been soft, and are expected to further decline by about 6% in 2009. Some analysts have hoped stevia-sweetened zero-calorie CSDs could be the breakthrough needed to help reverse the sales slide. But others have expressed doubts, opining that the sweetener is too sweet for soft drinks.
Time will tell, but one thing is fairly certain. We’ll be hearing a lot more about the sweetener derived from the Paraguayan herb in the coming new year.
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