Reb A makes French debut in Fanta

Coca-Cola has become the first company to launch a beverage sweetened with Rebaudioside A in France – four months after the country's government approved the stevia-based ingredient.

The drinks giant has developed a new recipe for its orange drink Fanta Still incorporating 97% purity Reb A, and containing 30% less sugar than standard Fanta.

France approved Reb A 97, but not other forms of the ingredient, in September 2009 following an application by Auvergne-based stevia supplier Greensweet. At the time, concern was expressed that Reb A 97 was generally considered less palatable to consumers than lower purity versions.

However, Kantha Shelke, president of Chicago-based food and nutrition think tank Corvus Blue, said this might not present so much of a problem in France as in other countries.

"France's consumer palate will allow for a lower calorie Fanta with bitter tones," she said. "In the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria, Fanta consumers are young and typically prefer a candy-like taste profile."

It is no surprise Coca-Cola has chosen a citrus drink to debut Reb A in France, she added. "The Reb A toe will first test a citrus flavoured drink, for certain non-candy citrus flavours can mask and complement the bitter notes of Reb A."

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