Crowdsourcing and cutting back on sugar are two popular trends these days, and one major American company has had the clever idea of combining the two in order to improve its bottom line. Coca-Cola has announced the "Sweetener Challenge," a competition for researchers and scientists to come up with a natural, no- or low-calorie substitute for sugar for its beverages. The winner of the competition, who will be announced in October 2018, will receive $1 million. The company is also conducting a $100,000 "sweet story challenge" to learn from contestants the "tried-and-true methods of naturally sweetening foods or beverages in their cultures, communities, or families."
$1.1 million would be a small price for a soda company as large as Coca-Cola to pay, considering the role sugar plays in the obesity and type-2 diabetes epidemics, NPR reports, and the resulting drop in soda consumption. According to Darren Seifer, a food and beverage industry analyst with the NPD Group, "sugar is now the number one item that consumers want to avoid in their diets." Last month, one chain restaurant, Panera Bread, started listing the amount of sugar and calories on its cups of soda, CBS News reports.