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‘MexiCoke’ attracts following in U.S.

BY Barbara White-Sax

ATLANTA — Coca-Cola has been selling its naturally sweetened bottled cola in Mexico for decades. The soft drink has a loyal following and has been imported to the United States through unauthorized dealers for years. In response to the growing popularity of soft drinks sweetened with cane sugar and the spike in demand for “MexiCoke,” Coke has started distributing the product itself in the United States.

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Nostalgia for the iconic glass bottles, a burgeoning Latino population and a growing market for natural, niche foods should continue to fuel sales. Ironically, a recent study showed that Mexicans are drinking fewer soft drinks, and Mexico’s largest soft drink bottler, Coca-Cola Femsa, reported a 6% decline in sales for the first half of 2014.

 

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New recipes key to making sodas pop

BY Barbara White-Sax

It’s a new era for carbonated beverages. Sales have been falling for a decade as consumers have shifted away from traditional sodas sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup and are avoiding diet sodas due to concerns about artificial sweeteners.

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Aggressive marketing, price promotions, and new product extensions have not been enough to stem the category’s decline. The key to carbonated soft drinks’ future lies in innovation. To that end, manufacturers are trying new recipes and trotting out old favorites to keep consumers interested in the category.

Advances in stevia extract, a natural sweetener derived from the stevia plant, could be the start of a new chapter for the ailing category. Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Dr Pepper Snapple Group and the American Beverage Association have made an industrywide pledge to reduce beverage calories by 20% by 2025, and the improved taste profile of stevia-sweetened products is helping them meet that goal.

“Taste has been a challenge with natural sweeteners, but improved stevia extract and a new wave of other naturally derived sweeteners — such as monk fruit, palm sugar and sorghum — could solve that problem,” said Laurie Demeritt, CEO of The Hartman Group.

Pepsi is debuting a new soda, Pepsi True, which is sweetened with real sugar and stevia, and contains no artificial sweeteners or high-fructose corn syrup. Each 7.5-oz. can has 60 calories, compared with the 100 calories found in a 7.7-oz. can of regular Pepsi. The product currently is sold only through Amazon.com, but Pepsi plans to roll out to other online retailers, then some grocery stores next year.

Coca-Cola tested its own mid-calorie cola, Coca-Cola Life, in a few southern states, and rolled out nationally in November. The product, which has more than 30% fewer calories than regular Coca-Cola, has been tested in Argentina, Chile, Great Britain, Sweden and Mexico. In a notable departure from the Coca-Cola’s iconic red packaging, the product has green labeling.

Dr Pepper Snapple Group is testing three naturally sweetened versions of Dr Pepper, 7up and Canada Dry — sweetened with stevia and sugar — in three markets, and such smaller brands as Zevia also are entering the market with a variety flavors. Zevia uses stevia, monk fruit and erythritol, a natural component of fruits, vegetables and grains that is classified as a sugar alcohol.

At the same time, carbonated soft drinks sweetened with pure cane sugar are becoming more popular with consumers. Coca-Cola has seen double-digit increases of the Mexican version of its classic soda.

“The success of Mexican Coke is buoyed by the fact that it’s exotic because it comes from another country, but other manufacturers are looking at that natural soda space as an opportunity,” Demerrit said. “Hanson and its Blue Sky brand have been successful in positioning their beverages as ‘healthier’ soft drinks.”

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Tic Tac brand reimagines a holiday classic

BY Ryan Chavis

NEW YORK — Tic Tac is asking consumers to add some variety to holiday stockings this season with the introduction of new limited-edition Candy Cane Tic Tac mints. The new product contains a mix of peppermint-flavored red-and-white pills, cutting out the hassle — and stickiness — of unwrapping a traditional candy cane. 
 
The new Candy Cane Tic Tacs have a suggested retail price of $1.29 for a 1-oz. pack. Consumers can expect to find the treats at select grocery, drug, mass and convenience stores. 
 
The brand also announced that it is bringing back limited-edition Cherry Apple Twist Tic Tac mints, which feature a combination of wild cherry-flavored red pills and green apple pills. The Cherry Apple Twist variety also has a suggested retail price of $1.29 per 1-oz. pack. 
 

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