Dr Pepper Snapple has released an all-natural version of its iced tea which uses high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) instead of sugar, but has denied that it was driven by trends for natural ingredients or any consumer choice to avoid HFCS.
Similar moves for newly released soft drinks include ‘retro versions’ of Pepsi and Mountain Dew, which feature 1970s-style packaging and 1970s-style formulation, sweetened with sugar instead of HFCS. Meanwhile, PepsiCo has also released an all-natural Pepsi version sweetened with sugar, marketed as Pepsi Natural in the US and Pepsi Raw in the UK.
The natural category was the most frequently used label claim in 2008, according to Mintel, appearing on nearly one in four food and drink launches, a nine percent increase from 2007.
Despite this notable trend towards natural ingredients – and much controversy surrounding HFCS – vice president of marketing for Snapple Bryan Mazur denied that either of these were driving factors in the new drink’s release.
He told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “We see sugar as being about the same [as HFCS], but it heightens the natural flavor and reduces calories up to 20 percent…Snapple ingredients evolve and get better. Sugar is one small part of the formula but it really comes down to delivering great taste.”
Notably, the company still produces other drinks that contain HFCS.
Mazur said that the reformulation of Snapple’s iced teas was the company’s “biggest changeover in 37 years.”
He added that the new sugar-sweetened version will be available in the US, Canada and Mexico, but would not say one way or the other if the new product would become permanently available, saying that the company’s formulations would continue to evolve.
Campaigners against HFCS point to epidemiological studies that have linked the consumption of sweetened beverages and obesity, as well as some science that claims that the body processes the syrup differently than other sugars due to the fructose content, leading to greater fat storage.
However, industry associations like the Corn Refiners Association have repeatedly claimed there is no scientific evidence to suggest that HFCS is uniquely responsible for people becoming obese.