* To announce launch of stevia-sweetened drinks shortly
* Shares rise 4.7 pct
NEW YORK Dec 18 Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc
(DPS.N) said on Thursday it expects to announce the launch of
low-calorie drinks made with a natural sweetener in the coming
weeks, helping to send its shares up nearly 5 percent.
The move would follow similar introductions from larger
rivals Coca-Cola Co (KO.N) and PepsiCo Inc (PEP.N), which both
said a day earlier they received U.S. regulatory clearance for
sweeteners derived from the stevia plant.
Coke and Pepsi plan to launch new soft drinks in the coming
"We are pleased with the Food & Drug Administration's
decision to approve the use of stevia in the United States,"
said Jim Trebilcock, a Dr Pepper Snapple marketing executive,
in an email. "This important decision clears the way for food
and beverage manufacturers to develop and introduce an array of
naturally sweetened lower calorie choices."
"We expect to announce the launch of our first
stevia-sweetened products in the coming weeks," he continued.
The sweeteners, made from the leaves of a South American
shrub, will provide natural alternatives to chemical sweeteners
like Equal and Splenda.
Dr Pepper Snapple shares were up 76 cents at $16.80 on the
New York Stock Exchange.
(Reporting by Martinne Geller, editing by Dave Zimmerman)