Coca-Cola seeks sweetener innovations from scientific community, public

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Company, said it wants to reach out to the scientific community to find a “naturally sourced, safe, low- or no-calorie compound that creates the taste sensation of sugar when used in beverages and foods.” The grand prize is $1 million.

The other is the “sweet story challenge” that invites people around the world to “submit written anecdotes and videos about their favorite, tried-and-true methods of naturally sweetening foods or beverages in their cultures, communities or families.” Up to five individual or team winners will vie for $100,000 in total prize money.

The project is being led by Coca-Cola’s External Technology Acquisition Team, which Coke says explores and invests in emerging ingredients, packaging materials, beverage production technologies and more.

Robert Long, SVP and chief innovation officer at Coca-Cola said on the company’s site that the HeroX campaigns support the Coke’s commitment to refresh its drinks portfolio and “keep looking for new beverage ingredients to meet consumers’ evolving tastes and lifestyles.”

“We’re always searching for newer, better ingredients, and we know that amazing ideas can come from anywhere,” Long said on the site. “These two challenges are very much rooted in our desire to make the drinks our consumers want to drink, and in our willingness to look beyond the walls of our company for breakthrough sugar alternatives that help us deliver the great taste people love but with less sugar and fewer calories.”

Earlier this year, Coca-Cola announced plans to reshape its growth strategy and operating model. James Quincey, who became CEO on May 1, said the company will focus on driving revenue going forward by building “consumer-centric” brands – including more low- and no-sugar options and drinks in emerging categories.

Coca-Cola has come under scrutiny and backlash in a lot of jurisdictions and communities around the world in recent years over the health effects of its sugar-based drinks. Some countries and communities have imposed high levies on the drinks as a way to reduce its consumption and the health effects that comes with consuming it. In the U.S., the company has been sued, likening its products to that of tobacco companies. Coca-Cola have also suffered declining sales as more consumers become increasingly health conscious. The company’s sales peaked at $46.5bn in 2011 and have been on the decline since. Full-year sales in 2016 was US$41.9bn, down 10% from 2011.

Coca-Cola announced last month that it will replace no-calorie Coke Zero with Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, a “new and improved” version of its predecessor as part of the company’s efforts to reformulate its products to reduce sugar and appeal to more consumers in the face of backlash and declining sales.

Credits: Atlanta Business Journal

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