DUIVEN, THE NETHERLANDS — Carbonates represented 14% of global new product activity in soft drinks in 2012, but mid-calorie products represent a potential opportunity for innovation, according to Innova Market Insights.

The overall slow level of innovation in carbonates is the result of a mature status, the concentrated nature of the industry and the limited innovation opportunities in comparison with other parts of the market such as fruit and juice beverages.

Lu Ann Williams, research manager at Innova, said the United States has the largest carbonated soft drinks market in the world as well as the largest per capita consumption levels. As a result, product development is led by the United States, but the concentrated nature of the market has limited innovation with top three players representing 90% of sales, she said.

Consumers are interested in low-calorie and reduced-sugar lines, and products using these claims represented 17.5% of global carbonate launches in 2012.

“A more recent trend aimed at regenerating interest in a mature and generally static market is that of mid-calorie products positioned as a halfway house between the taste of full-sugar products and the health benefits of sugar-free options,” Innova said.

PepsiCo Inc.’s Pepsi Next is leading this effort with the product containing 60% fewer calories than regular Pepsi and sweetened with a blend of high-fructose corn syrup, aspartame, acesulfame-K and sucralose.  The product also was introduced in Australia, but there it uses a formulation with stevia for a 30% sugar reduction as opposed to the 60% reduction in the United States.

Coca-Cola Co. developed and tested a line of mid-calorie products using the Select sub-brand for Fanta and Sprite products containing natural sweeteners to achieve 50% of the calories of the traditional product.

Dr Pepper Snapple Group has been working on Dr Pepper Ten containing 10 calories and followed that up with 7 Up Ten, A&W Ten, Sunkist Ten, Canada Dry Ten and RC Ten.

Yet the market for these products may be limited.

“They may not have widespread consumer appeal, may confuse consumers with a raft of different calorie levels, sweeteners and positionings and may, in any case, cannibalize sales of existing full and low-calorie lines,” Ms. Williams said.