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Coca-Cola to test mid-calorie Sprite and Fanta

The Coca-Cola Company

The Coca-Cola Co. is trying out mid-calorie versions of its Sprite and Fanta sodas months after competitor PepsiCo Inc. launched its own limited-calorie Pepsi Next.

Starting in mid-June, Sprite Select and Fanta Select will be sold in test runs in Atlanta; Detroit; Louisville, Ky.; and Memphis, Tenn. Sweetened with sugar and naturally-derived substitutes such as stevia and erythritol, according to Beverage Digest, the drinks will each have 70 calories.

Usually, 12-ounce cans of Sprite have 140 calories, while Fanta has 160 calories.

"It’s a limited test of two new formulations to see if they might appeal to consumers," said Coca-Cola spokesman Scott Williamson. "We’re not sure, which is why we want to test it."

The Atlanta-based company said it has no current plans for a national rollout.

"A test of this kind is not unusual," Williamson said.

The beverage industry has offered a range of low- or no-calorie options over the years. Earlier attempts at more healthful drinks, such as C2 from Coca-Cola and Pepsi Edge from Pepsi, saw lackluster sales and were subsequently pulled. But Coke Zero, which was launched in 2005, has developed a loyal base of fans.

Even beers and energy drinks are in the game. Anheuser-Busch InBev launched its Bud Light Platinum this year; Red Bull has its Total Zero option.

On Monday, 7-Eleven launched its SlurpeeLite Fanta Sugar-Free Mango drink, which it said has 50% fewer calories than comparable drinks. An 8-ounce drink has 20 calories. Other flavors, such as strawberry banana and cherry limeade, are to be available later this summer.

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