December 14, 2010

PepsiCo Working Towards Sweetener Breakthrough

PepsiCo is "very close" to a breakthrough on a mix of sweeteners and flavor modifiers that will make its low-calorie beverages taste better than before, the company's chief executive officer said Monday.

"We want to be out there with a product that is outstanding, not one that is just good," Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi said at a conference hosted by Beverage Digest. "We are very close," she said, referring to a line-up of products that she declined to name.

Nooyi said the breakthrough would involve not only sweeteners, but also ingredients to balance the impact of those sweeteners. The breakthrough includes making a single "teaspoon of sugar taste like four" or reducing the taste of a sweetener's flavor to prevent aftertaste.

Flavor enhancers are "extremely important" to the industry now, Doug Tough, CEO of International Flavors & Fragrances Inc, told Reuters.

PepsiCo already sells Trop 50, a lower-calorie version of Tropicana Orange Juice, and a zero-calorie SoBe Lifewater drink, made with natural zero-calorie sweetener.

As beverage companies become more increasingly under fire from critics who say sweetened drinks contribute to the growing obesity epidemic in the US, good-tasting, natural, low-calorie sweeteners are seen as the next 'best thing since sliced bread' for the soft drink industry.

Larry Young, CEO for Dr Pepper-Snapple Group Inc, which is also experimenting with low-calorie sweeteners, told Reuters that it was easy to go 90 percent toward creating a great-tasting low-cal product, but that final 10 percent stretch was very difficult.

Young also stressed that Dr Pepper would not sacrifice taste.

PepsiCo signed a four-year deal with Senomyx Inc this past August for the development of sweeteners. A similar deal was signed between Coca-Cola and Chromocell Corp earlier this week.


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