Israeli foodstuffs importer Willi-Food is leaping into the soft-drinks market with a green cola sweetened with stevia instead of sugar, reports Foodbev.com.
Willi-Food hopes its "diet" drink will carve out a niche in the Israeli market at the expense of established soft drinks, such as Diet Coca Cola, Zero coke and Pepsi Max.
Green Cola is made in Greece and is sold there, in Cyprus and in Australia.
Like its arch-rivals, Green Cola contains caffeine. It will cost 5.90 shekels for a 1-liter bottle, or 19.90 shekels for a six-pack, and will be available through the big retail chains to start with.
At a later stage Willi-Food may introduce a non-diet Green Cola variety with sugar instead of sweetener. "But to compete with Coca Cola, Tempo and Jaf-Ora takes a lot of money and focus. So we decided to start with a product that doesn't exist in Israel," Willi-Food CEO Zwi Williger told reporters on Wednesday.
Its color aside, Green Cola's caffeine is a natural product from coffee beans, the company says. Stevia is also considered to be a natural product Williger said, stating: "With the launch of Green Cola, we are providing the consumer an innovative new product that emphasizes our direction to promote healthy, nutritional products that do not compromise our desire to maintain a quality of taste."
It bears noting that Coca Cola also has a brand sweetened with stevia rather than saccharine and so on, called Life. It isn't sold in Israel, only in South America.
As for Stevia, it is an intensely sweet natural chemical originating in various species comprising the sunflower family. It adds no calories whatsoever to the drink and has been used by indigenous peoples of South America to sweeten their foodstuffs for generations.
For what it's worth, scientists have expressed dubiety about the use of artificial sweeteners, or stevia for that matter, to achieve sustained weight loss. One reason can be that people using them tend to feel virtuous - and then overeat.
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