A public health expert is likening sugar-free fizzy drinks to "what methadone is to heroin" after Coca-Cola officially announced the end of two of its popular products.
Coca-Cola NZ has officially announced it's scrapping Coke Zero and Coke No Sugar and launching Coca-Cola 'Zero Sugar'.
"We're constantly evolving with the changing nature of New Zealander's tastes and preferences," Coca-Cola New Zealand head of marketing Tracey Evans said. "We believe this new recipe will be popular with our current drinkers, as well as Coca-Cola Classic fans who are looking for a zero-sugar alternative."
New Zealand has the 11th highest consumption of soft drinks in the world. In 2014, Kiwis drank about 73 litres of carbonated beverages each - equating to around 221 cans.
Auckland University of Technology public health professor Grant Schofield expected the new product to be similar to the Coke No Sugar drink.
"It's a rebrand, isn't it? … It's not a health food, right? But it's better than stuffing down the eight teaspoons of sugar cubes in the Coke heavy - the Coke Classic.
"I think most people would describe Coke Zero and Diet Coke, Coke No Sugar being, to Coke, what methadone is to heroin - so it's better than the bad," Schofield told AM.
The new Coke Zero Sugar recipe aimed to create a taste as close to Coca-Cola classic as possible, the company said.
"Coca-Cola New Zealand continues to invest in the no sugar category and in 2019 made a commitment to reduce sugar throughout its portfolio by 20 percent by 2025," it said in a statement.
It comes after the new recipe was already launched in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australia.
Coca-Cola said the new product would be available across all retailers from next month.