Sweetener Category Expands Rapidly

The past few months have seen unusual activity from the sweetener category.

By Mark Anthony, Ph.D., Technical Editor

Coca-Cola Co. and Cargill Inc. teamed up to develop and market a zero-calorie natural sweetener derived from the South American herb stevia. It sweetens like sugar, has zero calories and comes from a natural source. Coca-Cola reportedly will have exclusive rights to use and sell the product, trade-named Rebiana, in beverages, while Cargill may market it for use in other products, such as yogurt, cereals, ice cream, candy and perhaps tabletop use. A year or more of regulatory hurdles remain.

NutraSweet Co. formed an alliance with American Sugar Refining Inc., owner of the Domino brand of sugar products, to produce and distribute a line of new tabletop sweeteners in the U.S. The first product, expected sometime this summer, will be the relaunch of the NutraSweet tabletop brand, which currently is all aspartame but may not remain so. The two apparently already collaborated on Domino Pure D'Lite, a blend of sugar and neotame.

And the settlement of a lawsuit between the marketers of Equal and Splenda seemed to be unsettling as we went to press. Merisant, maker of Equal aspartame, sued McNeil Nutritionals, which markets Splenda surcralose, for its advertising "made from sugar so it tastes like sugar." Just as the jury asked for a calculator, the two sides announced a settlement.

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