Stevia - New Hope for Next boost of Diet Soda

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Diet Sodas are invented to replace the regular Sodas which are believed to be a main source of increasing U.S. obesity rates and development of Type 2 diabetes. With low calorie artificial sweeteners, diet Sodas experienced fast development in 1980s and 1990s. However, the development ceased after various concerns about the health risk of aspartame and various other artificial sweeteners which are widely used in soft drinks.

After about 10 years declining in sales since 2003, Soft drink makers have more than ever great eagerness to find a healthier low calorie sweetener to replace the existing ones. However, they don’t have many options. Only 2 types of high sweetness natural sweeteners are available: Siraitia grosvenorii (monk fruit extract) and Stevioside (stevia extract). While both plants have been used in food and medicine for hundreds of years and proved to be perfectly safe and are 300-400 times sweeter than table sugar, Siraitia grosvenorii is less appealing in comparison with Stevioside for its much higher price.

Both PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are developing their stevia sweetened diet soda. PepsiCo's stevia soda, Pepsi Next, has been available in Australia market since 2012 and has been expanded to other countries including France and Canada, when the US version is sweetened with Acesulfame-K and sucralose along with high fructose corn syrup and sugar. Coca-Cola has also launched it stevia sweetened coke, Coca-Cola Life, in June 2013 in Argentina and in November in Chile.

At the same time, all these soda makers are investing a lot on research and development of new sweetener. PepsiCo has boosted global spending on research and development, which includes research on sweeteners, by 27 percent to $665 million since 2011.

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