TOKYO — Coca-Cola (Japan) has introduced a new Coke brand that uses a low-calorie natural sweetener, with an eye on attracting the health-conscious.
The green-labeled Coca-Cola Life was released on March 9, the first new line in eight years. Sweetened with stevia, it is being branded under the idea of enjoying life more. The company is promoting the new drink as one of its key products, which include red Coke as well as Coca-Cola Zero.
The use of stevia leaf extract helps reduce calories of the new drink to 19 calories per 100 milliliters, compared with the signature red Coke at 45 calories. Stevia, a perennial composite plant native to Paraguay in South America, is widely accepted as a safe sweetener in Japan. It is 200 to 350 times sweeter than sugar, meaning even a tiny amount is enough, according to the company. The green bottle is expected to attract nature loving, health-conscious adults, who have stayed away from Coca-Cola products.
Carbonated beverages, long labeled unhealthy or too sweet, are changing. Many of the recent new products have achieved huge cuts in calories or sugar. Beverage makers have started to target health-oriented grown-ups with “carbonated beverages for adults.” Coca-Cola Life is a result of this growing trend.
“It’s somewhere between red Coca-Cola and the black Coke Zero, demonstrating a different set of values,” said an official at a beverage company.
Meanwhile, some point to a lack of appeal. “If Coca-Cola wants to persuade consumers of its low-calorie advantage, the company should disclose how much sugar is actually used” in the green Coke, an official in the distribution sector said.
The new Coke has maintained the traditional Coca-Cola taste, with the sweetener free of a chemical aftertaste, noted an industry analyst. One concern is whether Coca-Cola Life can mark a clear distinction from the established low-calorie Coke Zero, the analyst said.
A 500ml bottle of the new drink sells at the pretax price of 140 yen ($1.16).