Coca-Cola is partnering with French drug manufacturer Sanofi to launch a new line of "beauty drinks" which the beverage company claims will help consumers lose weight and provide other well-being benefits.
Cocal-Cola and Sanofi will begin selling the Beautific Oenobiol brand this coming fall as part of a "small-scale pilot" limited to a number of outlets in France.
The companies confirmed the news after a leak by Sanofi's labour union representatives, who said that workers were angry to see the pharmaceutical company "spouting about beauty drinks" just a month after it announced that it plans to cut 900 from its workforce.
However, Coca-Cola, the world's biggest beverage producer, did not comment beyond a brief statement.
As concerns about its sugar-packed drinks grow in the U.S. and abroad, the Atlanta-based company beverage maker has moved to diversify its options.
Coca-Cola in France introduced Sprite with stevia, a natural sweetener that has no calories, earlier this year, following its launch of Fanta with stevia in 2010.
In 2009, Sanofi, based in Paris, bought Laboratoire Oenobiol, a company that makes nutritional supplements for skin and hair care.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the range of four Oenobiol drinks will be made of mineral water, fruit juice and nutrition additives. The drinks will come with claims that they will "help strengthen hair and nails, embellish skin, lose weight and improve vitality," according to the newspaper.
In 2009, more than two dozen states settled a case with Coca-Cola and Nestle over the green tea drink Enviga, which claimed would burn more calories than it contained.
Both companies agreed to add disclosures to Enviga and any similarly formulated product to disclaim any weight loss benefits and indicate that weight loss is only possible through diet and exercise.
The latest announcement of the Oenobiol beauty drinks in France comes as Coca-Cola tries hard to increase its sales in Europe, with sales volume up just 1 percent in the third quarter.