Yesterday we broke the news that Coke was reverting to its original formulations for the stevia-sweetened full-calorie (120) Glaceau Vitaminwater range after a social media tsunami/backlash at its taste. A Coke spokeswoman told BeverageDaily.com last night that the switch back to original formulations - using crystalline fructose and cane sugar in lieu of stevia and cane sugar - came after it tried "something new" with Vitaminwater as “part of our continual effort to innovate our beverage portfolio”.
“Although many of our most loyal customers” preferred the previous version of this drink, she said, stevia leaf extract remained a key ingredient in 45+ products across Coke's portfolio in 15+ countries, while the soft drinks behemoth will continue to use it in its Vitaminwater Zero line.
Paddy Spence heads up Zevia, the US soda brand sweetened exclusively with stevia, erythritol and now monk fruit, which has hit $60m in retail sales from a 2009 standing start, and accounts for circa. 80% of the naturally sweetened US soda segment.
'Consumers seek functional benefits - when brands don't deliver it undermines trust'
Speaking to this website about the Glaceau retreat, Spence said: “I think the consumer backlash against Vitaminwater’s recent reformulation underscores that consumers are seeking functional benefits from novel ingredients such as stevia, in this case a material reduction in sugar and calories, and when brands don’t deliver, it undermines trust in the brand.”
Spence noted that Vitaminwater has been “very successful” in using natural sweetener stevia in its Zero line, while Zevia has also seen “rapid growth based on our brand promise of zero-calorie sodas with no artificial sweeteners".
Zevia uses stevia for a purpose, to strip out empty calories