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Low-Calorie, Fortified Soda Could Be Aimed at Health-Conscious Types

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May 29--In a bid to attract health-conscious consumers, Dr Pepper/Seven Up Inc. may soon launch a new low-calorie version of 7 Up that's fortified with calcium and Vitamin C.

The potential move, reported Friday by the Beverage Digest newsletter, would signify a departure for the industry. Historically, mainstream carbonated soft drinks haven't been infused with healthful ingredients. Coca-Cola Co. experimented in 1986 with a calcium-fortified version of Tab, but it didn't stay on the market for long.

Plano-based Dr Pepper/Seven Up, a unit of Cadbury Schweppes PLC of London, declined to confirm the report, but company spokesman Michael Martin noted 7 Up "has always been looked upon as a brand that fosters innovation."

According to Beverage Digest, 7 Up Plus, as it would be called, could come in multiple flavors including berry. It would be introduced in the late summer or early fall. The artificially sweetened drink would have 15 calories, compared with 140 in a regular 12-ounce soda, the report said.

Although carbonated soft drinks are the nation's largest beverage category, outselling juice, water, tea, or sport drinks, they've been losing sales to consumers who are turned off by high sugar and caffeine content, said John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest. He said it's too early to predict the extent of the product's appeal.

Sales of 7 Up fell 27.6 percent last year, partly because of a change in its distribution method, Mr. Sicher said. It accounted for 1.2 percent of the carbonated soft drink market last year. Sprite is the most popular lemon-lime drink, with a 5.9 percent share, according to Beverage Digest.


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