Heinz is launching a version of its ketchup that contains stevia, enabling it to slash sugar by 50%.

Rolling into major retailers from 8 October, Heinz Tomato Ketchup 50% Less Sugars (rsp: £2.05/550g bottle) contains 11.4g of sugar per 100g compared with 23.7g in its original ketchup, and has nearly 40% fewer calories. The salt content is 25% less at 1.3g per 100g, which Heinz says meets the government’s 2017 salt reduction targets.

The new line will replace an existing reduced sugar and salt SKU, launched in 2006 and worth £3.9m, which contained 30% less sugar and 25% less salt than standard Heinz ketchup. Heinz said consumers preferred 50% Less Sugars in taste tests.

The packaging of the new SKU flags up the 50% reduction in sugars on the front of pack, but only includes a small reference to stevia under the list of ingredients on the back. Heinz said research showed the sugar reduction and ‘no artificial sweeteners’ message offered “the most compelling benefit” to shoppers.

The company is supporting the launch with a £1m campaign including TV from 20 October, in-store activity and sampling, and digital.

The launch comes as pressure mounts on grocery and fmcg companies to reduce the sugar content in their products. Other big brands adopting stevia in place of sugar include Coca-Cola, which launched its stevia-sweetened variant, Coca-Cola Life, in June.

Heinz, who became a pledge partner to the government’s 2017 voluntary targets on salt in June, said it remained committed to reformulating existing Heinz lines as well as healthier NPD.

A recent Public Attitudes Trackers survey by the FSA showed the proportion of adults concerned about sugar has risen to its highest level since it its launch in November 2010, to 48%.