Over the last two weeks, the Coca-Cola Co. has faced throttling criticism from vitaminwater loyalists, incensed about a recent change to the formulation of its flagship line, which is now sweetened with a blend of stevia and sugar. It’s the addition of stevia that’s said to be causing the most significant amount of grief for fans of the enhanced water brand, which had been using a mix of crystalline fructose and sugar for its full-calorie line.
Nevertheless, the Coca-Cola Co., which famously purchased vitaminwater in 2007, is said to be readying a U.S. launch for Coke Life, a mid-calorie cola that, like the new vitaminwater, is made with a sweetener blend that includes stevia. Beverage Digest, an industry newsletter, reported the news on Thursday via Twitter.
Initially test-launched in Argentina and Chile, Coke Life debuted last year and was recently introduced to the British market, where over “40 percent of the cola sold by Coca-Cola Great Britain in the U.K. is already no-calorie,” according to a company press release. Coca-Cola Great Britain has also been selling a stevia- and sugar-sweetened version of Sprite since March, 2013.
Featuring forest green branding and the iconic Coca-Cola font, the U.K. version of Coke Life contains 4 grams of sugar and 89 calories per 330 mL can. However, those numbers might be slightly different for the U.S. version of Coke Life, according to company spokesperson Katie Condon. In response to an e-mail inquiry from BevNET, Condon stated that “based on consumer preferences in each country, the proportion of sugar and stevia in this sweetener blend may vary, resulting in a difference in calories.”
Condon also noted that Coke is “not confirming the news from Beverage Digest last week,” and instead included the following company statement about Coke Life:
“Coca-Cola Life is our first cola sweetened with a blend of cane sugar and stevia leaf extract. This innovation underscores our continued commitment to the sparkling category by providing consumers delicious, high quality, refreshing beverages and choice. Following successful launches last year in Argentina and Chile, Coca-Cola Life has now been introduced in Great Britain. As we continue to innovate and expand our portfolio to meet consumers’ evolving needs and preferences around the world, we will explore the roll-out of Coca-Cola Life in other markets.”