Coca-Cola Enterprises is introducing stevia across its Glacéau Vitaminwater range - the first time it has used the natural sweetener in the UK.

The company is using stevia - a herbal extract dubbed ‘the holy grail’ of sweeteners - to trim 30 calories and 30% of the sugar from the drinks. The eight variants in the range will also have a revised blend of vitamins and minerals, and new labels with icons designed to highlight the nutritional benefits.

CCE will be hoping the revamped range fares better than Britvic’s flavoured water brand SoBe V Water, which was reformulated with stevia in April. Despite this, and a £2m marketing push, sales of SoBe have fallen from £3.5m to £1.3m in the past 12 months [Nielsen 52 w/e 15 September 2012].

Glacéau Vitaminwater, launched in the UK four years ago, is starting from a stronger position, with sales up 37.8% year-on-year to £15.8m in a bottled water market up 5.6% [Nielsen].

CCE said distribution of the brand had increased across all channels over the past 18 months and that its association with the Olympics as part of Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the Games had helped drive growth.

Unlike Britvic, which stripped sugar completely out of SoBe when it reformulated, CCE is using a mix of sweeteners and sugar in Glacéau Vitaminwater.

“It is common to blend sweeteners in beverages,” said CCE sales and customer development VP Nick Canney. “No single low-calorie sweetener can match the taste and functionality of table sugar, but some blends can get very close.”

The drinks are being phased in from this month, backed by digital activity and neck collars flagging the new recipe.In France, where the use of stevia was approved two years before the rest of the EU, Coca-Cola sells a still stevia-based drink under the Fanta brand.