Coca-Cola calls on public to develop its next sugar alternative

Coca-Cola is on the hunt for its next low or no-calorie sweetener and has asked the public to develop it. Pic: Amy Sparks

Coca-Cola is calling on the public via the crowdsourcing platform HeroX to develop a natural, low-to-no-calorie sweetener, but the compound must not contain, or be derived from, stevia or monk fruit.

Robert Long, SVP and chief innovation officer at Coca-Cola, said the company is pleased with the range of low and no-calorie sweeteners it currently uses in its beverages around the world, including stevia, but that the search for emerging ingredients has always been a priority.

“We’re always searching for newer, better ingredients,” Long said on the company's news site.

The sweetener innovation contest called the “Coca-Cola Company Sweetener Challenge” is part of the beverage giant’s efforts to keep up with evolving consumer tastes and its ongoing effort to reshape its growth strategy focusing on building its low and no-sugar beverage portfolio. The winner of the challenge will be awarded $1m in October 2018, Coca-Cola said.

A second challenge called the “sweet story challenge” calls for written anecdotes and videos about favorite, tried-and-true methods of naturally sweetening foods or beverages from various cultures, communities or families for a $100,000 award with winners to be announced in December.

“These two challenges are very much rooted in our desire to make the drinks our consumers want to drink, and in our willingness to look beyond the walls of our company for breakthrough sugar alternatives that help us deliver the great taste people love but with less sugar and fewer calories,” Long said on Coca-Cola's site.

Both projects are being led by Coca-Cola’s External Technology Acquisition whose role is to explore and invest in emerging ingredients, packaging materials, and beverage production technologies.

Growing low- and no-sugar options

Coca-Cola said it will continue to expand its portfolio of low to no-sugar beverage options to respond to consumers’ health-conscious consumption and purchasing habits. This shift requires the company to take risks and pursue new ways of innovating, CEO James Quincey said.

“As we expand our portfolio, we are embracing a ‘test-and-learn’ mentality,” Quincey said during its Q2 earnings call late last month.

“We’re seeing what consumers want and making adjustments immediately. Because at the end of the day, speed and agility are critical in this rapidly changing consumer landscape.”

Part of its reshaped business strategy was the recent re-positioning and launch of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar (originally Coca-Cola Zero) worldwide, which underwent a flavor adjustment to better mimic the taste of regular Coke.

The relaunch of Coca-Cola Zero resulted in high-single digit sales growth for the quarter, according to Q217 financial results.

“Our organic revenue growth in sparkling soft drinks was led by innovation in and marketing support for low- and no-sugar options like Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, which is rapidly expanding in availability around the world,” Quincey said.

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Comments (3)

S S R Ayyangar - 10 Aug 2017 | 09:04

About sweetener in Drinks

Whatever the public recommend ,It is your duty to see that by using the sweetener in the long run the health of the consumer does not effect. You should give guarantee for the consumer if you are interested in welfare of the public .

10-Aug-2017 at 21:04 GMT

Dr Raosaheb Mohite - 09 Aug 2017 | 04:19

Manufacturer - Consumer join for common good

Its a welcome step. FOr Coke or any other trans-national to have monopoly on all of the best ideas is not possible. After all what the consumer supports and desires is best known to consumer. This is a win-win solution as both parties work as 'partners' and not look ateach other suspiciously as more often than not we see all around.

09-Aug-2017 at 16:19 GMT

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