Pepsi changes its Zero Sugar recipe

New York

Pepsi Zero Sugar will soon taste different.

The sugar-free soda unveiled a new recipe that uses a “new sweetener system” that gives it a “more refreshing and bolder taste profile” compared to its previous iteration, Pepsi announced Friday.

Pepsi (PEP) did not reveal what specifically changed in the formula, although the company told CNN it had reduced the amount of caffeine, which now mirrors the amount of regular Pepsi (PEP). However, the company said customer research on the new flavor indicated it tasted more refreshing with a “real cola taste.”

The company “has leveraged the best new beverage technology to upgrade our Pepsi Zero Sugar product to bring fans the best tasting cola in the zero sugar category,” said Pepsi Chief Marketing Officer Todd Kaplan. in a press release.

The new recipe has started rolling out to store shelves and the packaging design remains the same. Pepsi added a “new and improved taste” badge to help shoppers identify the new formula.

Reddit users who discovered the new formula a few weeks ago said it tasted “much sweeter” and no longer had a “weird aftertaste” compared to its predecessor.

Pepsi is putting some marketing muscle behind the launch with new ads airing during the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl. It’s the first time in three years that Pepsi has aired an ad during the Super Bowl, and the company dropped its sponsorship of the much-watched halftime show last year.

The modified Pepsi Zero Sugar formula comes about a year after the launch of an updated Coca-Cola Zero Sugar recipe. Coke didn’t reveal what it specifically changed, but noted that the new version tastes “more refreshing and delicious” and its packaging has also had a facelift.

From a sales perspective, Pepsi Zero Sugar struggled against main rival Coke Zero Sugar. According to Beverage Digest data provided to CNN, Pepsi’s version has captured less than 1% of overall soda sales, while Coke’s has steadily increased its market share over the past five years to nearly 4%.

“Pepsi can no longer be satisfied that it also ran to Coke Zero Sugar,” Beverage Digest editor and publisher Duane Stanford told CNN. “Reformulating Pepsi Zero Sugar is a line in the sand that says it’s time to seriously compete for share in the most important segment of cola today.”

He added that “reformulation is essential to be competitive” because customers like sweeter colas.

This is Pepsi’s second portfolio shakeup this week. Pepsi dropped Sierra Mist and replaced it with a new lemon-lime soda called Starry in an effort to better compete with Coke-owned Sprite.

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