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Coca-Cola, Pepsi To Sell Fortified Diet Colas

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo confirmed plans to introduce fortified versions of their flagship diet colas.

The move comes at a time when consumers have been turning away from traditional carbonated soft drinks in favor of water and other drinks considered to have a healthier image. Also, as consumers seek more variety, the lines have been blurring betweeen the traditional beverage categories with many hybrid drinks coming to market.

Coke's Diet Coke Plus will contain niacin, vitamins B6 and B12, magnesium, and zinc, while Pepsi's Diet Pepsi MAX will feature an extra shot of caffeine and a touch of ginseng.

Pepsi expects Diet Pepsi MAX, which will go on sale in the U.S. in June, to appeal to 25-to-34-year-old diet drinkers and consumers who are switching from regular colas to diet versions. The Purchase, N.Y., expects the drink also will appeal to those people who are looking for an extra boost of energy. According to their research, nearly 80% of adult consumers say that maintaining energy is a top priority and nearly 60% find there's not enough time in the day to do the things they need to do.

A Coca-Cola spokesman declined to reveal specific details regarding the launch Diet Coke Plus, which will occur sometime later this year.

The drink's packaging will have the familiar Diet Coke silver and red label, but an additional blue ribbon with the word "Plus" in rainbow letters will be added.

This will not be the first time a soft drink maker had added vitamins to a carbonated beverage. In 2004, Cadbury-Schweppes introduced 7Up Plus, which was a low-calorie beverage with fruit juice, calcuim, and vitamins. Initially, the drink was well received, but that interest was not sustained over time.

Coke, Pepsi Add Caffeine Content To Labels

Separately, Coke said late Wednesday that it plans to put caffeine content information on the labels of all of its drink products distributed in the United States that include the ingredient.

Coke's plan to add caffeine information is part of a voluntary industry initiative. The company already has included caffeine labeling on its Full Throttle and Enviga products.

Coke plans to roll out the new labels, starting with cans of Coca-Cola Classic in May, and will expand to other brands and packages during the remainder of the year. The time at which the revised labels reach store shelves will vary by brand and region as U.S. bottlers use up existing inventories of packaging, Coca-Cola's North America division said in a statement.

A spokeswoman said the expanded caffeine labels will not be placed on Coca-Cola products distributed outside the United States.

Rival Pepsi already has included the caffeine content on its soft drink labels.

On Tuesday, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer group, issued a press release noting Pepsi's decision to disclose the caffeine content on its drinks.

"Every company that adds caffeine to food should tell consumers how much they're getting so consumers can comparison shop and make their decisions accordingly," said Michael Jacobsen, CPSI executive director.

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