The Atlanta-based company says "Sprite Select" and "Fanta Select" will have about half the calories of regular. They will be made with a blend of sugar and other sweeteners, including Truvia and erythritol. The tests will take place this summer in a limited number of stores in Atlanta, Detroit, Louisville and Memphis.
Scott Williamson, a spokesman for Coca-Cola, noted that there are no plans for a national rollout yet.
A 12-ounce can of regular Sprite has 140 calories, and a can of regular Fanta has 160 calories; the new formulas will both have 70 calories a can.
PepsiCo Inc. earlier this year launched its Pepsi Next, which has half the calories of regular. But Coca-Cola's new drinks are different because they use what are considered natural sweeteners, said John Sicher, publisher of Beverage Digest, which first reported on the tests.
Truvia is made from a plant and erythritol is a sugar alcohol. Pepsi Next, by contrast, uses a mix of high fructose corn syrup and three artificial sweeteners that were used in past diet sodas.
"This is a different kind of product — it's a mid-calorie drink made with all-natural sweeteners," Sicher said.
Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have tried mid-calorie drinks in the past. In 2001, Coke rolled out "C2" and Pepsi in 2004 introduced its "Pepsi Edge." Both were taken off the market because of poor sales.
It will likely take at least a year before Coca-Cola and PepsiCo can gauge whether their new drinks will have staying power, Sicher said. That is particularly true for products that are exploring a new category.
"It's all going to depend on taste," Sicher said.
Williamson said the tests of the new mid-calorie drinks are simply part of the company's ongoing development efforts.
"We're always looking at testing different formulations to see what, if any, appeal they might have," he said.Suggest a correction