Coca-Cola France is to launch a version of its Fanta Still drink early next year made with the natural sweetener, stevia.

In September, France became the first EU state to grant approval for the use of plant-derived stevia for a period of two years.

"Fanta Still containing stevia is part of our commitment to offer French customers a variety of non-alcoholic drinks and clearly illustrates our willingness to focus our innovation policy more and more on products with reduced sugar levels," said Coca Cola France president Christian Polge.

Within the past ten years, the global sugar content of drinks marketed by Coca Cola in France has diminished by 15%, the company said. The new recipe for Fanta Still "allows for a 30% reduction while at the same time preserving its original fruity taste," it added.

Coca Cola France said introducing stevia was not designed to replace aspartame, but rather to broaden the range of sugar and calorie-free sweeteners it already uses.