Coca-Cola Decides to Tweak One of Its Recipes

Coke Zero's ingredients will stay the same, though
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2021 10:56 AM CDT
Love the Flavor of Coke Zero? It's Changing
It's a new look for Coke Zero, and a new taste too.   (Getty Images)

If you remember New Coke with a shudder, brace yourself: Coca-Cola is once again tweaking one of its recipes, this time that of Coke Zero. The New York Times reports the company on Tuesday said the changes would be made in pursuit of delivering "an even more iconic Coke taste," though a marketing professor at Emory suggested only the "most die-hard Coke Zero Sugar people" will be able to detect a difference. The ingredients themselves won't be changing: carbonated water, caramel color, phosphoric acid, aspartame, caffeine, and potassium benzoate will remain in the mix. The company vaguely explained its alteration "optimizes existing Coca-Cola Zero Sugar flavors and existing ingredients."

  • The timeline: Coca-Cola Zero Sugar has been on shelves since 2005. It was tweaked once before, in 2017, and AdWeek reports the new formulation took two years to develop.
  • The look: It's new, too (see it here). The can is all red (it's currently red and black) with a black font and not much else for a slightly simplified look.
  • The market share: It's big, at least compared to rival Pepsi Zero Sugar. Coca-Cola Zero has 7.9% of America's carbonated cola market, compared to 0.4%.
  • But: CNN has this April quote from CEO James Quincey: "Despite its enormous success, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar still represents a relatively small percentage." But the company has pinned high hopes on the drink. CNBC has this from Quincey in February: "Actually, the best growth driver in '21 and probably for the few years is probably going to be Coke Zero Sugar.”
  • The verdict? At CNN, Danielle Wiener-Bronner writes, "Diehard fans may notice a big difference, but to this reporter, the two US versions tasted similar—with the new iteration slightly sweeter and fuller than the old."
  • Elsewhere: We're not the first to get a taste. The New York Post reports consumers in Europe and Latin America already have access to it, and the company calls the reaction "positive."
  • Other changes: MarketWatch points out the move follows other changes to the Coca-Cola lineup in the last year, with Coca-Cola Energy and Odwalla getting the ax and surging beverages like Topo Chico getting a push.
(More Coca-Cola stories.)

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