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New Formula Coke Sweet News for Corn Industry

April 30, 1985

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) _ Coca-Cola’s new-formula Coke is more sweet news for the nation’s corn farmers, but it strikes another sour note in the sugar industry.

The recent decision to reformulate Coke to make it slightly sweeter could mean it will contain from 3 percent to 8 percent more high fructose corn sweetener, Lucy Norton, director of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, said Tuesday in a telephone interview from Des Moines.

Soft drink companies - which use huge quantities of sweeteners - have been shifting from sugar to high fructose corn syrup since the mid-1970s, and many brands now authorize the use of corn syrup exclusively.

″In the most significant change of the 99-year-old formula, high fructose corn syrup has held its position as the dominant sweetener in the soft drink industry,″ Ms. Norton said.

″Coke also is making the product slightly sweeter, which means even more corn will be used.″

But Jack O’Connell, president of the Sugar Association, said Coca-Cola has ″cheapened the product by removing the sugar.″

″At some point in recent years, Coca-Cola made the decision to adjust its taste for the sake of economy by substituting a cheaper sweetener,″ he said in Washington, D. C. ″It doesn’t appear to have worked out for them. Sugar and sugar alone makes for the real thing.″

Ron Coleman, a spokesman for Coca-Cola USA in Atlanta, said the choice of sweetener does not affect the taste of the soft drink.

″We have always produced a quality product,″ said Coleman. ″The new Coca-Cola is even better than the original.″

Kyd Brenner, a spokesman for the Corn Refiners Association, said Coca Cola believes that switching from sugar to corn sweetener does not change the taste of its products.

He said the company does not order its bottlers to use corn sweetener, but allows them to choose between it and sugar.

″High fructose is more economical,″ said Brenner, adding that it sells for 10 percent to 50 percent of the highly volatile sugar price.

Corn sweetener is produced from domestically grown corn in about two dozen plants across the country.The sugar association says half the sugar used in this country is grown here. The rest is imported but refined in the United States.

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