UPDATE 1-Coke with stevia and sugar to launch in Argentina -report
June 26 (Reuters) - Coca-Cola Co plans to launch a new mid-calorie cola in Argentina called "Coca-Cola Life," sweetened with sugar and the naturally occuring no-calorie sweetner stevia, a beverage industry newsletter reported on Wednesday.
While the world's largest soda company uses stevia in other products, such as Vitaminwater Zero and Fanta Select, this would be a first for its flagship cola.
Natural, low-calorie sweeteners are seen as a holy grail for soft drink companies like Coke, PepsiCo Inc and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc, as consumers grow increasingly health-conscious.
Citing unnamed sources, Beverage Digest said Coca-Cola Life will have half the calories of regular Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola was not immediately available to comment.
Depending on results of the initial launch in Argentina and consumer feedback, the world's largest soda company would likely launch the drink in additional markets, Beverage Digest said, adding that the timing and choice of possible future markets has not been set.
Stevia comes from a plant native to Paraguay.
Coca-Cola shares were up 1.1 percent at $40.17 in morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange. PepsiCo shares were up 1.5 percent at $81.26.