Coca-Cola crowdsourcing seeks sugar alternatives

By Matt Atherton contact

- Last updated on GMT

Coca-Cola launches innovation crowdsourcing schemes (Flickr/Aviones Plateados)
Coca-Cola launches innovation crowdsourcing schemes (Flickr/Aviones Plateados)
The Coca-Cola Company has launched two crowdsourcing schemes to find innovative ways to sweeten food and beverages.

The manufacturer was seeking suggestions of sweeteners derived from plants, other than Stevia and Monk Fruit – which it currently uses – and a molecule or compound that could safely be used to sweeten food and beverages. The best answers would win cash prizes, Coca-Cola said.

Coca-Cola chief innovation officer Robert Long said: “We’re always searching for newer, better ingredients, and we know that amazing ideas can come from anywhere.

“These two challenges are very much rooted in our desire to make the drinks our consumers want to drink, and in our willingness to look beyond the walls of our company for breakthrough sugar alternatives that help us deliver the great taste people love but with less sugar and fewer calories.”

Sweet Story Challenge

The ‘Sweet Story Challenge​’ crowdsourcing scheme was looking for stories and videos about plants and plant sweeteners that are used in everyday life. Entrants had to demonstrate a history of the sweetener’s use in food or drinks.

Five individuals or teams will win the $100,000 (£76,600) prize. Dependent on the quality of submissions, The Coca-Cola Company could award the prize to fewer than five teams, it said. Submissions are now open, and the deadline is September 28, at 10pm BST. Winners would be revealed in December.

Sweetener Challenge

The second challenge – the ‘Sweetener Challenge​’ – called for scientists and researchers to find a naturally-sourced, safe, low- or no-calorie compound, that created a sweet taste when added to beverages and goods. The sweetener must be novel, and not contain or be derived from Stevia or Monk Fruit.

The substance should perform as well as sucrose (sugar) in most attributes, The Coca-Cola Company said. That included taste, performance, safety, cost and consumer acceptance.

Up to 10 semi-finalists will be announced in February 2018, before three finalists are revealed in April. The overall winner will be announced on October 3 2018. The individual will win the grand prize of $1M (£766,200).

Coca-Cola innovation crowdsourcing – at a glance

  • Sweet Story Challenge seeks plant sweetener ideas
  • £76,600 prize
  • Sweetener Challenge seeks scientists’ sweet molecule ideas
  • £766,6200 prize

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1 comment

Are You Kidding Me?

Posted by Peter Mattei,

Think about it: What if the world's largest beverage company could replace sucrose sweetener with another natural product that contains no calories or health restrictions...what would that be worth to them? Now, they dangle 1 million dollars in a crowd-sourcing campaign to circumvent their in-house researchers. Mind you, I think it's a brilliant business move but it may backfire big time when the true value of such a solution is considered! BTW, I have already developed a solution but never thought to approach the beverage industry giants - only a fool does so, unarmed.

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