At the Beverage Digest Wall Street Smarts conference yesterday, Massimo d’Amore, CEO, PepsiCo Beverages America confirmed the rumors that Pepsi will be launching a mid-calorie soda. D’Amore described the new beverage as “a next-generation cola” that cuts calories and sugar without sacrificing taste, the major stumbling block for mid-calorie sodas of the past. In 2004, PepsiCo launched the 70-calorie Pepsi Edge, which proved unsuccessful and was pulled from the market in the following year.
“The way we were formulating products 10, 20 years ago is different from how we formulate them today,” said d’Amore. “The sweetener system is different; some of the ingredients are different. It’s a great-tasting product.” He explained that the product has been created for customers who currently drink full-calorie soda, but are looking to cut back on their sugar consumption. The product will be tested in two locations this summer, in Iowa and Wisconsin.
The move may be an attempt to keep consumers from switching from cola to other beverages altogether, as the health problems associated with soda consumption gain more public attention. “When some consumers switch from regular colas, they try diets, don’t like the taste and move on to water or other categories,” John Sicher, Beverage Digest’s editor and publisher, told Advertising Age. “The theory is that a mid-cal can taste better than a diet to some consumers and appeal to consumers who are moving away from the regular brands.”
In the May 16 edition of The New Yorker, John Seabrook delves into the ways that PepsiCo is working to reposition itself in light of the global obesity crisis. “Snacks for a Fat Planet” is bookended with the author’s interactions with Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo’s C.E.O. Nooyi argues that it’s not enough for the company to make snacks that taste good, but also be “the good company.”
Nooyi is clearly a leader who understands the huge potential for corporate good, both for the bottom line and for society. She also sees that the health crisis created by obesity does not bode well for the future of PepsiCo’s profits, no doubt a factor in the company’s efforts to make healthier products. Earlier this year, the company began making a number of Frito-Lay products with natural ingredients. They also have plans to reduce the amount of sodium and sugar in their products by 25 percent by the year 2015, under guidelines created by Derek Yach, the former World Health Organization cabinet director.
If you have been to the supermarket lately, you might have noticed that the prices of your favorite groceries have increased a little bit. The price of almost everything from fresh veggies to bread to milk is increasing. Hershey has even recently announced that they will be increasing the prices of all of their goods by 10 percent.
By increasing their prices, some companies worry that these straightforward price hikes will result in consumers buying less of each product or choosing cheaper alternatives, such as store-brand cereal instead of General Mills. The answer to this dilemma for the food companies? Decrease the amount of food in the packages but keep the prices the same- and, sadly for consumers, the food companies have no obligation to the consumers to tell them about this reduction.
So how much of a reduction are we talking about? The largest reduction from our list will go to Reese’s peanut butter cups, who will reduce their chocolate-peanut-butter goodness by 37 percent, or 0.1 ounces. Chicken of the Sea Tuna will be reduced by 1 ounce, or 17 percent of its total weight. Heinz Ketchup will also take four ounces of their standard bottles, reducing the bottles by 11 percent. However, it’s not only food products; non-food products are also taking a hit. Bounty paper towels will be reduced by 10 sheets, or 7.2 percent. Toilet paper and moist towelettes are also likely to be reduced in the near future, if not already.
Diet Pepsi has introduced a new “skinny” can in accordance with New York Fashion Week. The diet soda can is a tall, sleek version of itself that PepsiCo said was “made in celebration of beautiful, confident women.” While the can might look appealing on store shelves, critics wonder if the new approach will perpetuate harmful stereotypes against women and body image.
PepsiCo, a Fashion Week sponsor, is hosting a series of events to launch the new can, including collaborations with popular designers such as Charlotte Ronson and Betsey Johnson.
“Our slim, attractive new can is the perfect complement to today’s most stylish looks, and we’re excited to throw its coming-out party during the biggest celebration of innovative design in the world,” Jill Beraud, chief marketing officer for PepsiCo said in a statement.
Diet Pepsi is promoting the idea of “slimness” associated with their product with a new packaging ploy. The tall, thin can was launched during New York City’s Fashion Week, no doubt intended to suggest the kind of body one might have by switching to diet soda. The company says the new look is made to celebrate confident, beautiful women.
“Our slim, attractive new can is the perfect complement to today’s most stylish looks, and we’re excited to throw its coming-out party during the biggest celebration of innovative design in the world,” Jill Beraud, chief marketing officer for PepsiCo, said in a statement. The stouter style of Pepsi can will continue to be available.