The Coca-Cola Company has quietly been reducing the sugar count of its drinks
Will cutting sugar content get the world to buy more Cokes?
A tentative experiment seems to suggest that at the very least, it doesn’t hurt. New Coca-Cola Company chief exec James Quincey said this month that the parent of Fanta, Dr. Pepper and Sprite has been quietly reducing sugar content, including recently trimming the calorie count of Fanta by 30%. Per the Times of London, this follows previous moves to reduce sugar content in Sprite and Dr. Pepper by similar amounts.
“Consumers like Sprite now as much as they did before,” Quincey told Bloomberg Businessweek, adding that sales of Fanta “seem to be continuing fine.”
The move comes as the beverage giant is struggling to attract younger consumers who prefer healthier drinks like juices and bottled water over the carbonated and sugary. Coke’s profits dipped 55% in the last quarter of 2016, though Quincey said that generally wasn’t attributable to cutting sugar.
In America, major changes haven’t come to Coca-Cola Classic, the company’s flagship drink, but the soda maker has been experimenting elsewhere. For instance, Coke released Coca-Cola with Stevia in Australia earlier this year. The drink is made from a combination of sugar and stevia, a sugar substitute, and contains half the sugar count of Coke Classic. The company also offers Coke Life, which has about a third less sugar than regular Coke, in some countries. It’s available in limited markets in America.
“We innovate and change in line with consumer tastes and preferences,” a representative of the sodamaker said in a statement announcing Coca-Cola with Stevia. “We continue to create new products that meet evolving tastes and preferences, particularly as people increasingly look to balance their intake of sugar.”
For regular soda drinkers, consuming Coca-Cola with Stevia—which contains about 17.5g of sugar per 12 fl oz can—instead of a similarly sized regular Coke with about 37g of sugar, could make a major difference. Let’s say you replace your daily two cans of Classic Coke with the Stevia-based drink. That translates into 39g less sugar per day, or about 150 calories. Spread that out over a year and that’s approximately 55,000 calories. That’s almost 16 pounds.
Of course, drinking a lower sugar soda won’t guarantee you’ll lose weight, especially if you replace the calories you cut from the soda with calories from something else.
Will Coke with Stevia eventually come to America? Well, the company set low expectations for Coke Life’s rollout, though Quincey became CEO with a mandate to aggressively trim sugar. Coca-Cola didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
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