Meet Pepsi True, the latest attempt by PepsiCo to sweeten soft drink sales with a midcalorie cola. By using sugar and stevia, the new drink contains 30 percent less sugar than a regular Pepsi, but no artificial sweeteners or high-fructose corn syrup. It's also the first cola under the flagship Pepsi brand since Pepsi Next 2½ years ago, and it will be among the first colas in the U.S. to use stevia, a plant native to Paraguay, as its primary sweetener.
Rival Coca-Cola is also in the process of a gradual and targeted launch of its own reduced-calorie, stevia-sweetened Coca-Cola Life, a cola that has 35 percent fewer calories than its flagship Coke. Like True, Coca-Cola Life mixes the stevia with sugar to achieve its sweet taste, and it also sports green-hued packaging. The stevia cola war comes as Pepsi and its peers fight a multiyear slump in U.S. soda sales and a seismic shift in consumer attitudes and tastes toward healthier and more natural beverages.
-- Sara Eisen, CNBC