NEW ZEALAND – Coca-Cola will release the first Coca-Cola product exclusively sweetened with stevia in New Zealand, called Coca-Cola Stevia No Sugar, replacing Coca-Cola Life products in the country.

According to the company, the introduction of the drink comes as part of a wider strategy to encourage consumers to consume less sugar.

“The last 10 years of continuous innovation with stevia means we’re now able to deliver a delicious tasting beverage and we believe it’s the best tasting stevia-sweetened cola we’ve ever made,” said Sandhya Pillay, country manager of Coca-Cola Oceania.

“Kiwis are innovative by nature and love to try new things. We jumped at the chance to launch Coca-Cola Stevia No Sugar.

Increasingly, we are seeing Kiwis wanting to consume less sugar, so we have been working hard for a number of years to develop different drinks that suit every lifestyle and occasion that still taste great.

“Stevia is 200 times sweeter than table sugar and has no kilojoules, meaning we can use much less.

Our continuous innovation on stevia has allowed us to develop a delicious tasting beverage sweetened 100% from stevia.”

George Droumev, technical director of Coca-Cola South Pacific added: “People still have the desire for drinks that taste good, but don’t necessarily want the sugar.

They want the same taste as the drinks they grew up with, but don’t want the kilojoules.

There has always been some sort of trade-off. Our task was to solve all of these challenges.”

The drink will be available from retailers in New Zealand from May 7 in 300ml, 600ml and 1.5L PET bottles, as well as six-packs of 250ml cans and 330ml glasses.

“There aren’t too many sugar alternatives around that are derived from a natural source and we think our recipe with 100% stevia and no sugar is a big deal.

We believe we’ve come up with a product that takes away the trade-offs and we’re excited for Kiwis to try it.”