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The cola wars continue: Coke Life vs Pepsi True

And just like Coca-Cola Life that initially was only offered in Argentina, PepsiCo has put a twist on how it will first make Pepsi True available: exclusively on Amazon (where Coca-Cola is also exclusively reviving its Surge brand) before it hits US stores.

Of course, the two brands also could end up sharing the same basic plight: mid-cal soft drinks haven’t attained much of a following anywhere yet.

For PepsiCo, the big bet is that Pepsi True will do a better job in the so-called mid-calorie space—not “low calorie” like diet sodas, but not full-calorie either, like the traditional flagships Pepsi and Coke—than the company’s previous offering, Pepsi Next.

True offers a mix of real sugar and stevia-leaf extract, giving it 30 percent less sugar than regular Pepsi and 60 calories per 7.5oz can, while Next, launched in 2012, has a mix of three artificial sweeteners and high-fructose corn syrup.

PepsiCo may have been compelled to act by some relatively new dynamics in the long-standing cola competition.

Coke enjoyed better sales this year with the viral “Share a Coke” promotion for its full-calorie variety. It introduced Coca-Cola Life, in the UK before the US. And both Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi have been hobbled lately by sluggish sales due to increasing consumer hesitance about artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.

Though PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi not too long ago insisted that stevia didn’t work well in colas, the company isn’t giving up on trying to make stevia work, at least as part of the formula, because it’s a natural sweetener.

“Gone are the days when consumers evaluated beverages solely on calories and taste,” PepsiCo said in a press release. “Today, a proliferation of beverage products provide consumers a wide range of choices that are driven by taste, sweeteners and calories.”

The company described True simply as the next chapter in a series of “product innovations that demonstrate its commitment to calorie reduction and consumer choice,” which began in 2008 when it enhanced SoBe Lifewater with stevia. “Today,” PepsiCo continued, the company “is helping consumers get back to the fun and refreshing side of cola with the US launch of Pepsi True.”

CNNMoney commented, “It remains to be seen how the stevia drinks catch on with consumers, particularly with the coveted millennials, who don’t seem to think much of soda. Though for better or worse, they’re probably familiar with stevia, which featured prominently in the widely-viewed finale of Breaking Bad.”

As John Sicher, editor of Beverage Digest, said, “Coke Life and Pepsi True are similarly-formulated products. Though the initial distribution is different, it proves one thing: the cola wars are far from dead.”

Source:; PepsiCo