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Europe has not seen the same dip in diet drinks interest as the US, according to Coca-Cola Enterprises.

Coca-Cola Enterprises believes Coca-Cola Life is an important part of its mix

Coca-Cola Enterprises believes Coca-Cola Life is an important part of its mix

Speaking to analysts following the announcement of the company’s second quarter results yesterday, John Brock, the company’s chairman & CEO, said: "I think one of the things that has helped us here is the very factual statement that the European Food Safety Authority made some 18 months ago, which is that aspartame is safe. It has been a very meaningful statement for governments, regulatory agencies, and it has actually translated into some changes in consumer thinking."

Brock admitted, however, that some consumers are still concerned about aspartame. "Do we have a group of people here that believe, throughout all of our territories, that there are some issues with non-nutritive sweeteners? The answer is yes."

But, he added: "I think, broadly speaking, we’re in a better position than some parts of the world, like the US."

He said Coca-Cola Enterprises’ low- and no-calorie products are growing, "if you look at the them over an extended period".

Brock also expects the segment to play a big role in providing continued growth for the company. "As we look to future, I think we are going to see low- and no-calorie becoming an even greater part of our business.

"We’ve launched a pledge as part of new sustainability programme around calorie reduction per litre in our products over the next several years - a very significant reduction - and the only way to get there is to see our low- and no-calorie products grow."

Speaking more specifically about the company’s portfolio, Hubert Patricot, executive VP & president, European Group, said: "We clearly see diet cola and light cola as the growth engine moving forward, driven especially by Coke Zero.

"We think the current portfolio we have now, including Coke Life, is the right answer to the different shopper behaviour and attitude."

Meanwhile, rival PepsiCo's aspartame-free Diet Pepsi will roll out in the US from August.


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