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Coca-Cola seeks new life for Coke Life

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Ten months after launching the mid-calorie cola Coke Life, Coca-Cola Amatil and its marketing partner are tweaking the recipe to boost consumption after a 5 per cent drop in industrywide cola sales in 2015.

Coca-Cola Amatil and Coca-Cola South Pacific said they were testing new formulations for Coke Life to further reduce the kilojoule count without compromising on flavour.

Their aim is to lure lapsed Coke drinkers back to the carbonated soft drinks category and to provide a healthier and more palatable option for drinkers of sugar-laden classic Coke and sugar-free Diet Coke.

"Our end goal is to reduce the kilojoules as much as possible but we will never compromise on taste," a Coca-Cola South Pacific spokesman told Fairfax Media. "We are currently exploring the next generation of Coke Life in Australia with even fewer kilojoules.

"Coca-Cola Amatil is committed to implementing a systematic reformulation plan for many of our products to progressively reduce kilojoules over time."

The recipe tweak suggests sales of Coke Life have fallen short of targets and failed to boost sales of the overall Coca-Cola brand, as Coca-Cola Amatil chief executive Alison Watkins hoped.


Sugar's out, water's in

Cola sales fell 5 per cent by value and 2.8 per cent by volume in 2015, according to the latest Retail World figures, while non-cola sales fell 3.8 per cent in value terms, fruit juice sales fell 7.2 per cent and energy drink sales fell 2.2 per cent.

In contrast, still water sales rose 8.5 per cent by value and 13.2 per cent by volume, and mineral water sales were up 3.3 per cent.

Coke Life is sweetened with a blend of cane sugar and stevia, a plant based-sweetener 300 times sweeter than sugar. The current Australian version of the drink has 35 per cent less sugar and 35 per cent fewer kilojoules than classic Coke.

First launched in South America two years ago, sales of Coke Life fell short of The Coca-Cola Co's targets because stevia's bitter after-taste turned off loyal Coke drinkers and the reduction in calories was not enough to convert consumers of Diet Coke.

The original Australian version of Coke Life was based on the formula sold in the UK and the US, rather than the formula sold in South America, which has a higher stevia content and 60 per cent fewer kilojoules than classic Coke.

Coke's British arm is now tweaking the Coke Life recipe to further reduce sugar content. The new version, which will hit supermarket shelves in April, is expected to have 45 per cent fewer kilojoules than classic Coke.

We are currently exploring the next generation of Coke Life in Australia with even fewer kilojoules.

Coca-Cola South Pacific spokesman

Coca-Cola Amatil is also launching a low-calorie iced tea, Fuze, after its manufacturing and distribution agreement for Nestea came to an end.

Fuze, launched in 2001 and acquired by The Coca-Cola Co in 2007, is sweetened with a mix of stevia and sugar and has about 70 per cent of the kilojoules of Nestea.

Coca-Cola South Pacific said a new type of stevia had been approved for use in Australia and New Zealand.

"This has enormous potential when it comes to developing products with reduced kilojoules," the spokesperson said.