With growing concerns over sugar content in food and drink, many companies are reviewing their product portfolios. The two main manufacturers of soft drinks in New Zealand, Frucor Beverages and Coca-Cola Amatil (NZ), have made a commitment to reducing sugar content in their drinks ranges. In July 2013, Coca-Cola Amatil (NZ) announced it was making four business commitments to help address the issue of obesity in New Zealand: increase the availability of smaller portion sizes, offer more low-calorie beverage options, provide transparent nutritional information in more places, and help get people moving by supporting physical activity programmes.
Meanwhile, Frucor Beverages developed a campaign known as ‘How we’re helping Kiwis choose less sugar’. Part of this commitment saw six iconic brands introduce reduced or no sugar variants including Just Juice, H2GO, V, Mizone, Pepsi and NZ Natural. In 2012, the entire range of H2GO flavoured water was voluntarily replaced by a sugar free option and rebranded as H2GO zero – a development which removed some 55 tonnes of sugar per annum. In addition, Frucor Beverages introduced better labelling, with 100% of labels providing the daily intake energy logo. Frucor Beverages also supported the decision of the New Zealand Ministry of Health and Education to not sell carbonated sugar soft drinks through primary and secondary schools, while supporting the Fuelled4Life campaign to provide better drink choices through schools.
In 2015, the two major drink players in New Zealand offered their flagship colas in a healthier alternative format. Coca-Cola Amatil (NZ) launched Coca-Cola Life in April while Frucor Beverages followed with Pepsi Next in May. Both brands are made with stevia and contain less calories than their regular cola counterparts and are expected to have a major impact on cola carbonates overall, with low-calorie cola carbonates expected to grow more strongly and expected to account for almost 50% of total cola carbonates sales by 2020.
In addition, less sugar is likely to be seen in other categories that have traditionally had a high sugar content, such as energy and sports drinks and fruit juices, with producers set to use either natural fruit juices or natural sugar substitutes such as stevia. To this end, it is expected that further natural sugar substitutes other than stevia are likely to be developed for use in the beverage market.