Atlanta beverage giant Coca-Cola has teamed up with food and agriculture company Cargill to develop and market a new calorie-free natural sweetener in an attempt to appeal to a growing band of health-conscious consumers, but regulatory and production challenges could hinder the project, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The sweetener is initially called rebiana and is said to sweeten food and drink naturally, without adding calories while tasting good, the Journal said.
The challenges facing rebiana's development center on the sweetener's source, the stevia plant, which isn't approved in the U.S. or European Union for use as a food additive, the paper reported.
Coke has filed 24 patent applications that were published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last week and claims to have exclusive rights to use rebiana in beverages. Cargill plans to use the sugar substitute in food products such as yogurt, cereals, ice cream and candy, but hasn't ruled out rebiana being used instead of tabletop sugar, the report added.