On June 30, Coca-Cola received positive news regarding the potential impact of a World Health Organization (WHO) classification on the artificial sweetener aspartame, used in its Diet Coke.
Analysts suggest that due to Coca-Cola’s extensive production capabilities, the company would likely experience only a limited effect if aspartame were classified as a possible carcinogen.
The WHO’s cancer research arm is set to make a classification in July, which could prompt consumers, food companies, retailers, and restaurants to consider their options in response.
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However, Coca-Cola’s significant presence in the low-calorie beverage market, with such products accounting for a third of its total volumes sold in 2022, positions the company favorably to transition to a natural sweetener if needed.
Experts note that Coca-Cola’s robust production and distribution systems, along with their experience in navigating previous challenges like sugar taxes and reformulations, make them well-equipped to adapt to evolving policy changes.
In the past, both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo modified their ingredient compositions to comply with regulatory requirements, such as altering caramel coloring manufacturing processes to address concerns over toxic chemicals.
While a shift away from aspartame may temporarily impact Coca-Cola’s profitability, analysts believe that the company’s long-term growth prospects would not be significantly affected due to its production history.
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In contrast, PepsiCo, which already transitioned away from aspartame to a blend of sucralose and acesulfame potassium, may have an advantage over its competitor, according to CFRA Research.
PepsiCo initially removed aspartame from some U.S. diet sodas in 2015, reintroduced it in certain products a year later, and ultimately eliminated it again in 2020.
Overall, the potential reclassification of aspartame highlights the industry’s response to evolving consumer preferences and regulatory changes, with companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo adapting their formulations to meet shifting demands.