In Stevia Wars, Pepsi’s Waiting for FDA Nod; Coke is Not

It’s official: The Coca-Cola Co. will launch three flavors of an Odwalla juice sweetened with the stevia strain called Rebaudioside A (Reb A) or rebiana—even though the Atlanta-based beverage giant has yet to receive sign off from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), The Wall Street Journal reported on October 15.


PepsiCo has two stevia-sweetened beverages waiting in the wings: a SoBe LifeWater drink and an orange juice called Trop 50. But Purchase, New York-based Pepsi is waiting for the FDA to make its decision regarding stevia’s generally recognized as safe status before rolling out its stevia-sweetened offerings, according to Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi.

Coke’s Odwalla juices are sweetened with Cargill’s Truvia brand of rebiana. Pepsi is working with Whole Earth Sweetener Co. (a subsidiary of Merisant) to use its PureVia brand of stevia extract. Although they are starting with noncarbonated juices and other drinks, both Coke and Pepsi could be working on a diet soft drink sweetened with stevia or another natural sweetener. In fact, Nooyi told reporters at a Beverage Digest conference that she believes natural, zero-calorie sweeteners such as stevia could halt the sales decline of carbonated soft drinks, which are expected to fall 6% next year, according to Morgan Stanley analyst Bill Pecoriello.

In a recent Morgan Stanley poll of consumers, 22% of 18- to 65-year-olds were extremely interested in stevia and 36% were somewhat interested.

Meanwhile, Cargill announced on Monday that it’s launching a nationwide marketing campaign for its Truvia brand, which is already being sold as a tabletop sweetener alongside sugar and sugar substitutes in U.S. grocery stores. With the tagline “Honest Sweetness,” the campaign’s goal is to build awareness among health-conscious consumers. Ogilvy & Mather—the agency that created advertising for the Nutrasweet brand—is developing the creative content for the Truvia campaign.

If you are an NBJ subscriber and would like to read more of NBJ’s coverage of stevia, click the following:

Move Over, Aspartame! Stevia-Sweetened Foods and Drinks are Coming to Stores in the United States This Year

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