Coca-Cola changed to stevia in May

Coca-Cola changed to stevia in May

The Coca-Cola Co has gone back on a decision to mix stevia into its Vitaminwater recipe in the US after a social media backlash.

The soft drinks maker, which changed the formula in the flavoured bottled water brand in May, admitted that “fans haven’t had the greatest things to say about” the new recipe. Users of Vitaminwater's Facebook page had attacked the change, with some claiming the new product had a strange taste.

Vitaminwater was previously sweetened with a blend of sugar and crystalline fructose but was reformulated to a mix of sugar and stevia-based sweeteners. Asked why the change was made, a spokesperson for Coca-Cola told just-drinks: "We are always innovating and evolving both our products and packaging to satisfy our consumers."

In a statement to consumers last week, Coca-Cola said it was returning the formula to “the taste you know and love”. Production is expected to start this month and the product will be available across the country by the winter, Coca-Cola said.

The forced formula change may worry Coca-Cola, which is looking to stevia-based sweeteners as a credible alternative to sugar in light of health concerns over sugar and public distrust of artificial sweeteners.

Last year, Coca-Cola learned it may face a class action lawsuit over alleged “deceptive and unsubstantiated” claims for Vitaminwater, such as the product being a healthy alternative to water and sugary soft drinks.

Around the same time, the company launched Coca-Cola Life, which is sweetened with a blend of sugar and stevia, in South America and is now rolling it out in parts of Europe.

To read an exclusive just-drinks comment on the prospects of Coca-Cola Life, click here.