December 16/Atlanta/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution -- As Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo sense demand from consumers and pressure from regulators to sell more lower-calorie drinks, some of the hottest competition between the old rivals is happening in sweetener laboratories.
PepsiCo and Coca-Cola inked deals recently with scientific outfits to find and commercialize natural sweeteners. They are also investigating enhancers that would allow scientists to use smaller amounts of sweeteners such as sugar, derivatives of a shrub called stevia or high-fructose corn syrup. High-fructose corn syrup is the most common sweetener used in soft drinks in the United States.
Indra Nooyi, chief executive of PepsiCo, got the drinks industry buzzing when she said her company may announce a breakthrough in sweetener technology next year. "We have a lineup of products," Nooyi said at a Manhattan conference. "They are very, very close."
Not long ago, Stevia was seen as a possible best option among natural, low-calorie sweeteners, but because Stevia does not work as well in soft drinks as it does in some noncarbonated beverages, companies also are looking into other sweeteners, blends and enhancers.
Alliances shift rapidly. Coca-Cola had an arrangement with Senomyx Inc. to work on sweetener enhancers, but once that agreement ended, PepsiCo spent $30 million in upfront payments for a four-year collaborative agreement with the San Diego-based company. PepsiCo said Senomyx technologies will enable it to make more nutritious products without sacrificing taste.
Coca-Cola has signed with Chromocell Corp. to discover enhancers and natural sweeteners derived from fruits, herbs and vegetables. Coke gets exclusive rights to use the discovered flavors, sweeteners and sweetness enhancers in its beverages.
From the December 17, 2010, Prepared Foods' Daily News
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