After the company’s research found half of British consumers did not know the brand contained no sugar, it will be relaunched as “Coca-Cola Zero Sugar” in June, in Coca-Cola Great Britain’s biggest product launch for a decade.
Details of the revamped drink come a month after the chancellor, George Osborne, announced a surprise sugar tax on soft drinks to be introduced in 2018.
The rebranding campaign will encourage consumers to try the “new and improved” drink by highlighting that it “tastes more like Coke and looks more like Coke” than the original Coke Zero.
Coke Zero, which was launched in 2006, Coke Life and Coke Diet products make up 43% of the company’s UK sales, but it said it hoped this would rise to more than 50% by 2020.
Jon Woods, Coca-Cola Great Britain’s general manager, said: “Since 2012 our commercial strategy has focused on accelerating the growth of our no-sugar options. We know that millions of people love the taste of Coca-Cola and have been working to refine the recipe of Coca-Cola Zero to match the taste of the original – but without sugar.’’
Jennifer Rosborough, a nutritionist at health campaign group Action on Sugar, said: “While it’s encouraging to see that Coca-Cola is taking positive steps forward and offering people choice with the zero sugar option, they now need to urgently reformulate the original taste product which contains 35g of sugar in a 330ml can and provides no nutritional benefit whatsoever.”
But the company said it was taking other steps to help consumers reduce their sugar intake, including offering smaller can sizes. Its 250ml “mini” can of Coca-Cola, for example, is already available in more than 13,000 UK stores.
Coca-Cola’s UK boss, Leendert den Hollander, has said of the proposed levy: “We don’t believe the sugar tax is the right thing to be done. We are not debating the issue, we are debating the solution. The facts don’t suggest that a sugar tax works to change behaviour.”
Malcolm Clark, the coordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, said: “Coca-Cola’s belated conversion to promoting a ‘no-sugar’ message is disappointingly half-hearted. Coca Cola have not reduced their target that 50% of sales in 2020 will still come from full-sugar ‘classic’ Coke. Coca Cola is also one of the few major soft drinks companies that has not publicly ruled out a legal challenge to the sugary drinks tax, which we think is a worrying sign.”
This article was written by Rebecca Smithers Consumer affairs correspondent, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 19th April 2016 19.18 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010