PEPSI TESTS NEW LOW-CALORIE COLA

SOMERS, N.Y. -- The Pepsi Generation is watching its weight, and to address the caloric concerns of the twenty-something crowd, the Pepsi-Cola Co. here is test-marketing Pepsi XL, which has half the calories of regular Pepsi.Pepsi XL, which is being test-marketed in the Florida cities of Miami, Tampa, Fort Myers, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale starting this month, has a mix of 50% aspartame and

SOMERS, N.Y. -- The Pepsi Generation is watching its weight, and to address the caloric concerns of the twenty-something crowd, the Pepsi-Cola Co. here is test-marketing Pepsi XL, which has half the calories of regular Pepsi.

Pepsi XL, which is being test-marketed in the Florida cities of Miami, Tampa, Fort Myers, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale starting this month, has a mix of 50% aspartame and 50% high-fructose corn syrup/sugar. A serving of Pepsi XL has 70 calories, vs. 150 for regular Pepsi-Cola.

Pepsi XL, priced similarly to regular Pepsi and Diet Pepsi, is available in 12-ounce cans, 24-can cubes, 20-ounce bottles, two-liter bottles and the one-liter wide-mouth Big Slam bottle.

Amy Sherwood, a Pepsi spokeswoman, said Pepsi XL is aimed at consumers in their twenties who grew up on colas, but are now limiting their caloric intake. As a result, Pepsi XL is expected to add incremental sales to the category.

"It has Pepsi essence, and is as close to Pepsi as you can get," Sherwood said, adding she expects it will help the cola segment continue to grow. "In 1994 we saw a tremendous revitalization of colas with a healthy 4.2% increase, and that is a direct result of packaging innovation. This year we're doing the innovation with new products." Pepsi XL, she said, will be heavily advertised in its test market.

"We're already seeing tremendous end-aisle displays in supermarkets, and we'll have massive sampling of the product. We're creating a team of emissaries, called the Pepsi XL Team, that will move from market to market, venue to venue, and supermarket to supermarket to introduce Pepsi XL in a positive way," Sherwood said.

Roy Burry, a securities analyst with Oppenheimer & Co., New York, said Pepsi XL has a good chance for success.

"Americans have been shifting back somewhat from things that are low-fat and low-calorie, etc. This allows the consumer a little bit of a compromise, and I think there is a want for a product like Pepsi XL in the marketplace," he said.

George Thompson, a securities analyst with Prudential Securities, New York, said Pepsi has had success with similar products overseas, although Pepsi XL may cannibalize sales in the United States.

"If there is cannibalization, it is probably going to pull more from the diet end than the regular side," he said.

He expects chief nemesis Coca-Cola to concentrate more on new packaging than new cola products, although it will closely watch the success of Pepsi XL.