Health Why Coca Cola will not be affected by the WHO decision on...

Why Coca Cola will not be affected by the WHO decision on aspartame, the possibly carcinogenic sweetener it uses as an ingredient, according to analysts

Why Coca Cola will not be affected by the WHO decision on aspartame, the possibly carcinogenic sweetener it uses as an ingredient, according to analysts

The WHO agency for cancer research (IARC) plans to declare asparatame as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. The statement is expected to arrive on July 14, portending consequences for companies that use this popular artificial sweetener to sweeten their products while adding few calories.

In Europe, the so-called additive E-951 It is licensed for use as a food additive in beverages, desserts, candies, dairy products, chewing gum, energy reduction and weight control products, and as a tabletop sweetener. Among the most popular asparatame products are undoubtedly Coca Cola frescoes. The famous red brand includes it as an ingredient in its Zero and Light range. Also in other families like fanta or sprite.

The opinion of the health agency does not take into account how much of a product a person can safely consume. This advice for individuals comes from another WHO expert committee on food additives, known as JECFA, which is also studying the substance.

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“The headlines could negatively affect the volume of sales of low-calorie soft drinksdepending on the attention that the news arouses”, affirmed Garrett Nelson, an analyst at CFRA Research after the news broke. This classification could also make food distribution companies and restaurants decide to look for alternatives.

Since the news broke last Friday, several consumer industry trade bodies, whose members use aspartame, have shown their rejection of the CIIC’s evaluation.

Own Marcos de Quinto, former vice president of Coca-Cola Spain, lashed out hard against the WHO on their social networks. He described the health organization as “controversial” and “under suspicion of being in the service of big pharma.”

Despite the commotion, analysts predict that Coca-Cola will only see a limited impact if the agency finally classifies the sweetener as a possible carcinogen.

Its low-calorie products accounted for a third of its total sales volume in 2022. So for the company, switching to a natural sweetener might be easier than for many other companies that use aspartame, as told to Reuters.

“Coca-Cola has one of the better production and distribution systems globally … that have successfully navigated many hurdles in the past, such as sugar taxes and associated reformulations,” said Charlie Higgs, an associate partner at Redburn Ltd, a consumer staples research firm .

In fact, it is not the first setback from which the company must recover. In 2021, the gesture of Cristiano Ronaldo drinking water instead of Coca-Cola at a Euro 2020 press conference cost the company $4 billion market value.

For his part, market analyst Grzegorz Drozdz, from the investment firm Conotoxia Ltd, explained to the agency that the change in aspartame could affect Coca-Cola’s short-term profitability, but doesn’t see a sharp decline in long-term growth due to its production history.

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