Coca-Cola said yesterday it will release a new Diet Coke sweetened with Tate & Lyle's sucralose product.
The product will join Coca-Cola's existing seven drink range, that includes the original Diet Coke, sweetened with NutraSweet, the popular amino acid based aspartame sweetener.
Already seen on a range of food products in the US and Europe, the choice by the US beverage maker to use Splenda's logo on the can is a sign of the growing power of the Splenda brand.
"Many consumers told us they liked the taste of Splenda and wanted a Splenda-sweetened option under the Diet Coke brand, so we're obliging them," said Dan Dillon, vice president, diet portfolio, at Coca-Cola North America.
But Coca-Cola said the new drink would be an extension to the current range of low-calorie drinks and would not lead to the withdrawal of the original Diet Coke.
Booming sales for Tate & Lyle's sweetener product that is 600 times sweeter than sugar, gave the UK firm the necessary leverage for the firm to re-enter the FTSE 100 index at the end of 2004 after a seven-year break.
Key to the growing success of the ingredient (E955) are rising health concerns in society, that are driving consumers towards sugar free products and food makers introduce zero-calorie or low-calorie sugar substitutes into their new product formulations.
Market analysts Freedonia predict growth of intensity sweeteners at around 8.3 per cent year on year until 2008, with sales rising from a small base of $81m in 1998 to $189m in 2008.
According to Tate & Lyle Splenda is now used in over 4,000 products worldwide, from carbonated drinks and nutrition bars to desserts, confectionery and dairy products.
But at the end of last year the UK firm, the world's only maker of Splenda, warned it needed to prioritise the needs of existing customers as demand for the additive 'far exceeds our expectations.'
Rationing supplies, the British firm said it would not be taking on any new customers in the US until the Alabama plant extension in 2006 and the new Singapore plant in 2007 come on line.
Speaking to FoodNavigator.com today, Tate & Lyle said the new Coca-Cola diet coke brand extension had already been 'factored into our business plans' last year.