2007 | Case No. E272
The protagonists are Lara Jackle and Lynn Graham, CEO and VP Marketing for LifghtFull Foods respectively. LightFull is a beverage start-up based in Northern California that is struggling with a major strategic decision which centers around its use and possible replacement of an ingredient called Stevia (an all natural, zero calorie plant derivative which is often used as a sweetener by consumers and companies) with an artificial sweetener. Jackle and Graham like Stevia for its inherent qualities that play to the company’s and product’s strengths: all-natural ingredients, low calorie, nutritious and tasty snack-replacement satisfaction. Some board members argue, however, that replaceing Stevia with an artificial sweetener will not negatively impact the brand, and may in fact appeal to a larger audience in more mainstream channels (e.g., WalMart vs. Whole Foods, the latter of which does not allow articifically sweetened food items on its shelves). While approved by the FDA for use as a dietary supplement, Stevia has not yet been approved as a sugar subtitute, food additive or sweetener. In fact, companies are overtly barred from using Stevia as anything but a dietary supplement and inclusion of the ingredient necessitates that the company classify the entire product (in this case a beverage) as a nutritional supplement, not a food.
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