Fans of San Pellegrino sparkling drinks have complained of their distaste for a new formulation that hit shelves in the UK ahead of the recent sugar tax.
Manufacturer Nestle announced in March that it had reformulated San Pellegrino to contain approximately 40% less sugar.
It said the change, using stevia to replace a proportion of the original added sugar, had been “carefully managed to ensure that the unmistakeable taste remains and thorough taste tests have resulted in very positive feedback”.
But some consumers of the drinks, which are described on Nestle’s website as targeted at adult consumers and “indulgent beverages for occasional consumption”, said they would gladly pay more for the original recipe.
Since April, manufacturers have had to pay 18p per litre of drink if the product contains more than 5g of sugar per 100ml and 24p per litre for 8g of sugar per 100ml.
A Nestle spokesman said: “We care about the enjoyment of our products and any product reformulation undergoes extensive testing and research.
“We carried out taste tests of the new San Pellegrino sparkling fruit beverage formulas with consumers, achieving very positive results before launching the range earlier this year.
“We are closely monitoring online reviews and comments to continue to listen our consumers’ views.”
Stevia-based sweeteners use purified extracts from the leaves of the stevia plant, called steviol glycosides.
The plant extract – which is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar and is also calorie-free – has been used as a sweetener for many years in Asia and South America.
Steviol glycosides are approved for use in sugar-free soft drinks, hot beverages, jams, flavoured milk and other dairy products, cakes, desserts and alcohol, among other things, but can have a bitter aftertaste.