Jones adds sugar ... and cans

Jones Soda Co. adds another novel soda flavor: sugar-sweetened. And this time it's in a can.

The quirky Seattle soda company, known for such unusual flavors as strawberry lime, fufu berry and — during the holidays — turkey and gravy, early this year launched its first 12-oz. aluminum canned sodas. And in the process, Jones officials announced not only are the canned sodas sweetened with cane sugar, but the whole line quietly has been converted to sugar.

"We have always felt cane sugar is a better sweetener," said Peter van Stolk, Jones founder and CEO. "It has a cleaner taste. Sugar has a nicer mouth feel. It is not thick."

Since March, all the company's soda products have been made with cane sugar, instead of high-fructose corn syrup, he said. Jones is promoting the change with the slogan: "Corn is for cars. Sugar is for soda."

In recent years, some critics have tried to link high-fructose corn syrup, particularly in soft drinks, to rising obesity rates.

"There is nothing we make in Jones Soda that has high-fructose corn syrup except our energy drink, and we're switching that in the third quarter," said Van Stolk.

While Jones has made a mark for its retro glass bottle as much as its unusual flavors, "It is important for us to get traction on the cans," Van Stolk added. The company cited reports that bottled soft drinks account for $500 million of the market, while cans account for $70 billion.

With the diversion of corn for use in ethanol production, corn prices have risen and the price gap between high-fructose corn syrup and sugar has narrowed. Jones claims to be the only nationally branded 12-oz. canned soda sweetened with cane sugar.

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