Nearly six months after beverage giant Coca-Cola announced their partnership with Pure Circle to develop a new zero-sugar coke beverage, the company has launched their first patented 100 percent stevia-sweetened Coke product. The company is testing their new Coca-Cola Stevia No Sugar product in New Zealand first to see how well their innovative beverage does in the market before releasing the product in other countries.
According to the company, their new stevia-sweetened beverage does not have the unappealing aftertaste associated with most stevia-sweetened products. This is because they have utilized the specific Reb M glycoside – which is a component of the stevia leaf that gives it its sweetness – to develop their new beverage sweetener. Coca-Cola Stevia No Sugar was launched last week in all major independent retailers across New Zealand and they have completely replaced the company’s previous stevia and sugar-based beverage, Coca-Cola Life.
“Our team and our partners have spent almost ten years working with stevia, a sugar alternative from a natural source – 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,” said George Droumev, Technical Director of Coca-Cola South Pacific.
Coca-Cola is leveraging the fact that New Zealand is the first country to try their product for their marketing campaign. Their new social media ad for the product focuses on the country being the first to try Coke Stevia by mentioning their previous first accomplishments such as being the first country in the world to have someone climb Mount Everest and the first country to legalize voting for women.
With a population of just about 4.7 million people, New Zealand seems to be a soft launch for Coca-Cola. However, the country is home to the largest selection of Coca-Cola products in the world, making it a natural choice for a new coke product launch. New Zealand is also a good place to test how Coca-Cola Stevia fares against traditional sugar-sweetened Coke products.
Considering the fact that their previous stevia-containing Coke product, Coca-Cola Life, is not doing well in the market, it makes sense that the company is cautious with the launch of their new stevia-sweetened Coke. Last year, the company had to discontinue their Coca-Cola Life products in the UK because of low sales. Between 2014 and 2017 Coca-Cola Life’s volume sales fell 73.1 percent. This may be because this product had the unappealing aftertaste that stevia-sweetened products are known to produce.
If Coca-Cola Stevia is successful in the New Zealand market the product will likely show up in the UK next because of their new sugar tax. However, full scale commercialization is still a few years away for the company as there are not enough Reb M glycosides extracted yet for launching the product worldwide.