As obesity rates rise all over the world, with much of blame targeted at fizzy and sugary drinks, one global firm has decided to take action. Coca Cola, arguably the largest soft drinks manufacturer in the world, has launched a new version of Coke, but this time with a third less sugar than the standard drink.
The new Cola will be sweetened using a blend of sugar and a plant extract called Stevia, which is much sweeter than normal sugar. The new drink will be called Coca Cola Life, and a 330ml can will contain 22.1g of sugar, as compared to 35g in a standard Cola drink.
New Cola Life has already been piloted in Argentina and Chile and will go on sale in the US and the UK in September; it will also be sold with a green band replacing the signature red one. This is the first new type of cola drink to be launched since Coke Zero, which has no calories, in 2006.
Stevia is already being used as a natural alternative to sugar, as it has been found to have up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar, and does not have a high impact on blood glucose. This makes it idea for those on a low, carbohydrate controlled diets.
The Stevia plant is native to South American countries, such as Paraguay, Peru, Colombia and Chile, but is also grown in Asian countries including China and Indonesia.
Coca-Cola has created the new drink as part of their commitment to offer their customers a more varied and healthier choice of soft drinks options, and stated that it was the ‘most recent example in a series of initiatives by the company to inspire happier, healthier lives’.
The company has signed up to the Government’s Responsibility Deal, where food and drink manufacturers can pledge to cut the amounts of fats, sugars and calories in their products. As part of their commitment, Coca-Cola has promised to reduce the amount of calories by 5% per litre across a range of their drinks by the end of 2014. They have also swapped sugar for Stevia in Sprite, introduced mini cans of Coke and funded a £20 million initiative health drive in parks across the UK.
Coca-Cola Europe president James Quincey said: “We are pleased to add Coca-Cola Life to the Coca-Cola portfolio in the UK. It complements our existing brands and is well-positioned to meet changing lifestyle trends, providing people with a great-tasting, lower calorie cola sweetened from natural sources. With Coca-Cola Life, we have innovated to provide consumers with a new option with fewer calories. We were early signatories to the UK Government’s Responsibility Deal and as we work with others across society to address the public health challenge of obesity in the UK and across Europe, we will continue to take actions that help people balance their lifestyles.”
Hidden sugar in products is thought to be a main cause of obesity in children and adults around the world, with Action on Sugar group stating that it would be relatively easy for food manufacturers to reduce the amount of sugar added to products by 20 – 30% without affecting the taste. This they say would result in a reduction of around 100 calories a day, a significant amount for those battling obesity.
Coca-Cola Life will be available in a 330ml can, 500ml bottle and 1.75L bottle.