A few weeks ago we wrote about a product formulation change by cola manufacturers, including Pepsi and Coca Cola, modifying the type of caramel coloring used in order to avoid being labeled as carcinogenic.
But that’s small peas compared to a joint announcement planned for tomorrow morning by Muhtar Kent and Indra Nooyi, the CEOs of Coca Cola and Pepsico, respectively, which was leaked late last night to the Huffington Post. Here is what Mr. Kent is planning to say:
“As industry leaders, employers, and community members, our companies strive to do the best for all our stakeholders. Over the past few years, the beverage industry has made immense efforts to offer a wide variety of hydration solutions to address the public’s changing needs. Today, we are taking our commitment one step further by announcing our plan to reduce up to 30% of the sugar content in our companies’ cola line of products. We project that this move will reduce the annual sugar consumption in the US by 25 billion pounds.” read more…
What you need to know:
The dramatic announcement by the 800 and 500 pound gorillas in the beverage industry is nothing short of amazing. In one fell swoop, these two companies will be reducing close to ONE TRILLION CALORIES from the annual US intake. That works out to about one pounds of body weight per year for every American!
There is no mention in the announcement of a timeline for this reduction in sugar and whether it will happen overnight or gradually over the course of a few years.
Indra Nooyi, Pepsi’s CEO, is quoted saying that in market tests over the past 9 months in several key metro locations, results were surprisingly favorable. Pepsi tested various formulation changes, and the one that seemed most successful was around the 30% reduction in sugar for the classic cola flavor. The changes and testing were done under tight control and shrouded in secrecy, but according to a Coca Cola spokesperson, the FDA and department of Health were notified well in advance of the planned reductions in sugar.
Both Pepsi and Coke will be making adjustments to other ingredients in their drinks, but no new ingredients or additives will be included in the reduced sugar formulation. This means that high fructose corn syrup will still be used instead of sugar.
We at Fooducate commend Coke and Pepsi for this brave move. It’s not an easy decision to take a hundred year old winning formula and change it. This is a huge bet on a core product that’s pretty much been a license to print money. Recall that Coke got burned in the early eighties when it made a formula change to the New Coke.
In the press release, neither CEO mentions America’s obesity problem or the connection between soft drink consumption and weight gain. But it is quite clear that the companies have been getting squeezed more and more by both consumer groups and the government over the course of the last few years. This is likely a preemptive move to buy the beverage behemoths more time.
Mind you, the new formula colas will still contain 5.5 teaspoons of sugar per 12 ounce cans. But this step is better than none.
The first reformulated products will be out in “select markets” (not mentioned in the press release) in the early fall. The branding and graphics have not been shared by either company.
What do you think about this change?
Will it have a real effect on America’s waistline?
PS: If you think this story is too good to be true, you’re right. We Gotcha! April fools… But sometimes you just have to stretch the limits of what’s possible. Who knows…And now, to polish off that extra large soft drink…