Recently, key members of the beverage industry, which consumes 31% of the U.S. sugar supply, announced calorie reduction plans and product launches that highlight stevia.
Stevia-based drinks could enable “the return of the cola”, helping the beverage giants rejuvenate brands that have lost some of their luster. Marketing gurus say “green’s got game”, and it’s likely that even more improvements will be made to make these products even healthier. So, the beverage companies could in fact both win, and if they succeed it could be a boon for public health.
The trend towards calorie reduction and sugar reduction is growing, and is being accelerated by mounting clinical data and public health campaigns that are having an effect on consumer buying trends. Ebola may be more frightening, but non-communicable diseases like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease quietly wreak havoc on public health and are far more costly year after year. The WHO proposed just in March of this year that their new sugar recommendation would amount to less than a soda per day.
The great news is that the beverage companies are now fully on board. The largest beverage companies, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, also tried to publicly affirm their commitment to calorie reduction at the Clinton Global Initiative, where they announced they would reduce calories in their products by more than 20%. Former President Bill Clinton in comments to the New York Times stated “this is huge”.
“Stevia is a great enabler of this new shift in priorities as it is a truly zero-calorie, plant-derived sweetener. It has continued to hold the promise of being the holy grail of the sweetener sector, and has already become the workhorse of the industry as the leading natural high-potency sweetener.”
Here at Stevia First, our corporate aim is simple, to enable a far larger and more reliable global supply of this key ingredient. Increased supply will fuel even more global product launches and reformulations, which are already enabling calorie reduction on a massive scale. In the last two years alone, we’ve been able to build technology that could readily double or triple the global output of stevia. We’ve also struck a deal and are now integrating a new business that could provide us with one of the largest stevia supply chains in the world today.
So it’s clear that in this dynamic period for our industry that we’re positioned well to capitalize in the months and years to come. And while “war profiteering” is generally frowned upon, this war is a special situation and different. Our actions can pay big dividends for not only us, but the beverage companies, public health and future generations all at the same time.
Big 3 soda makers pledge to cut drink calorie consumption by 20% by 2025
Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Dr Pepper Snapple pledged on Tuesday to cut beverage calories consumed per person in the United States by 20% by 2025, through a mix of marketing, distribution and packaging, in tacit recognition of their role in the American obesity crisis.
The voluntary plan, announced at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, at the national level entails the three major soda makers widening the availability of low- and zero-calorie beverages and with drinks sold in smaller format. The agreement will also apply to 3 million company-owned vending machines and coolers in convenience stores, as well as fountain soda dispensers at fast-food restaurants like McDonald’s. Each beverage company will also provide calorie counts, and promote calorie awareness.
It also follows a previous pledge by the soda makers to lower the calories in the drinks they sell on school campuses. An independent analysis of that initiative published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2012 found a 90% reduction in calories from beverages shipped to schools between the 2004-2010 school years. “Our work with beverage companies to reduce the number of calories shipped to schools by 90% demonstrates the power of creative cooperation,” former President Bill Clinton said in a statement. At the local level, the companies committed to putting more effort in communities where there has been less interest in, or access to, ways in which consumers can reduce their drink calorie consumption. To do that, they will more heavily promote their bottled water products. The companies are being encouraged to introduce and expand new lower-calorie products and smaller-portion formats, among other endeavors.
The initiative, which the American Beverage Association hailed as the “single-largest voluntary effort by an industry to help fight obesity” follows a slew of regulatory proposals that threatened soft drink makers’ sales, from a (failed) effort by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to limit the size of soda portions to a bill in California seeking to require warning labels on soft drinks.
The agreement dovetails well with what Coke, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper have been trying to achieve anyway: reduce their exposure to sugary drinks. The decline in U.S. sales of carbonated soft drinks accelerated in 2013, falling 3% in 2013 to 8.9 billion cases, the ninth straight year of decline, according to industry newsletter Beverage Digest.