The Impossible Quest For A Low-Calorie Soda That Tastes Good, Seems Natural

Teams of scientists all over the world are working to harness compounds from a South American plant to solve one of the greatest challenges of the modern world. No, they’re not working to cure cancer or invent a car that runs on maple syrup. Scientists all over the world are trying to create a sweetener that’s calorie-free and considered “natural,” but is also palatable.

The closest thing that we have to this right now are the mid-calorie sodas with weird names and green cans, Pepsi True and Coca-Cola Life. The goal for soda-makers is to create a sweetener with a similar mouthfeel to sugar-sweetened beverages, but we’re not quite there yet.

Americans’ soda consumption has been decreasing for most of the last decade, which is a good thing overall unless you’re in the soda business. Consumers are drinking less sugared soda, but also less diet soda amid concerns about the health effects of artificial sweeteners. Beverage-makers are introducing other types of beverages, like fancy fortified milks.

Where do new sweeteners come from? Bloomberg Business visited the scientists at Evolva in Copenhagen, where they’re finding the best-tasting molecule available on the stevia plant to duplicate for mass consumption. Instead of covering entire continents in stevia plants, their plan is to engineer yeast that can duplicate the sweet molecule in theoretically infinite quantities. Early tests deem the new sweetener…not perfect, but better tasting than the super-sweet licorice aftertaste of the stevia that we’re using now.

Scientists Are Racing to Build a Better Diet Soda [Bloomberg]

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