Battle of the sweeteners

Ashley Milne-Tyte Apr 6, 2007


SCOTT JAGOW: A big-time corporate boxing match goes to court Monday. It’s like Sugar Ray Leonard or Sugar Ray Robinson — except with artificial sweeteners. The little blue packet, Equal, versus the little yellow packet, Splenda. Ashley Milne-Tyte has more.

ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: “Made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar.”

That’s the tagline on every Splenda packet, and it’s a line rival sweetener-maker Equal says amounts to false advertising.

It says the words lure people into thinking they’re eating something more natural than Equal’s own product.

The case hinges on a combination of semantics and science. Splenda says though their product does not contain sugar, the process of making it starts out with sugar.

Andy Grein teaches marketing at Baruch College in New York. He says the fight over phrasing is part of a bigger problem.

ANDY GREIN: This case is really about a battle for market share and market dominance. Clearly Splenda has turned the tables on Equal and gone from, you know, sort of a small position in the market to a dominant one.

Grein says by bringing the lawsuit, Equal is making a concerted effort to reclaim the market it used to rule.

In New York, I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

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