SINGAPORE: Coca-Cola has issued an open challenge to develop "a natural, safe, reduced, low- or no-calorie compound" as it looks for a new way to sweeten some of its products.
"While a tremendous amount of research has gone into the discovery and development of natural low- and no-calorie compounds, we still think there are novel compounds to be discovered and developed!" it said as it launched the competition on crowdsourcing platform HeroX.
To sweeten the deal, the beverage company is offering the winner US$1 million.
The compound must not contain or be derived from stevia, lo han guo (monk fruit) or from any list of protected species or substances issued by any regulatory body in any country, the company said.
Contenders must also provide "reasonable evidence" that the compound is safe for consumption, the company said, adding that it would independently seek regulatory approval for the substance to be used in various countries.
Participants also have to show that the material is stable in sunlight and in low pH water.
The deadline for submissions is Jan 18, 2018.
For the less scientifically inclined, Coca-Cola launched an additional campaign, asking consumers for tried and tested methods of naturally sweetening food or drink in their cultures, communities or families.
Up to five winners will share the prize money of US$100,000.
On Jul 26, Coca-Cola announced plans to launch Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, a revamped Coke-Zero, in the United States, as it expands offerings of low-sugar and non-carbonated beverages amid flagging demand for sweet sodas.
The announcement came at a time when Coca-Cola reported a 60 per cent drop in second-quarter profit to US$1.4 billion and a 16 per cent decline in revenue to US$9.7 billion.