ATLANTA — The Coca-Cola Co. has issued a challenge for researchers and scientists to find a “naturally sourced, safe, low- or no-calorie compound” that tastes like sugar when used in food and beverage products. The winner will be awarded $1 million in October 2018.
The compound must not contain or be derived from stevia or monk fruit or from any list of protected species or substances issued by any regulatory body in any country, according to the company. The Coca-Cola Co. Sweetener Challenge may be found on crowdsourcing platform HeroX.
An additional campaign, “the sweet story challenge”, invites consumers from around the world to submit written or video entries featuring favorite methods of naturally sweetening foods or beverages. Up to five winners will receive $100,000 in total prize money, according to the company.
“We’re always searching for newer, better ingredients, and we know that amazing ideas can come from anywhere,” said Robert Long, senior vice-president and chief innovation officer at Coca-Cola. “These two challenges are very much rooted in our desire to make the drinks our consumers want to drink, and in our willingness to look beyond the walls of our company for breakthrough sugar alternatives that help us deliver the great taste people love but with less sugar and fewer calories.”
Leading the project is Coca-Cola’s External Technology Acquisition Team, which studies and invests in emerging ingredients, packaging materials, product technologies and more.The company recently unveiled Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, a no-calorie soft drink the company describes as “the new and improved Coca-Cola Zero,” to the U.S. market. Consumer testing of the new recipe took over a year, and the beverage now features an “even more Coke-like taste,” said James Robert B. Quincey, president and chief executive officer of the Coca-Cola Co., during a July 26 earnings call. The introduction also underscores the company’s continued efforts to provide more low- and no-sugar options. The company now offers nearly 250 such options in the United States and expects Coca-Cola Zero Sugar to be “a growing and important part of our portfolio,” Mr. Quincey said.