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Pepsi’s on a health kick

Lisa Napoli Nov 21, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: Coke versus Pepsi is perhaps one of the most hard-fought business rivalries in the world. As of today, that particular fight is a bit, well, juicier. Marketplace’s Lisa Napoli explains why the cola wars have taken a healthier turn.

LISA NAPOLI: If you think the Real Thing ought to be, well, real. And you’re not part of the Pepsi Generation, this story’s for you. Pepsi said today it’s going to buy the brand of virtuous-looking beverages known as Naked Juice.

Five years ago, in an effort to diversify its soft-drink offerings, Coke slurped up rival juicemaker Odwalla. Both Odwalla and Naked are what the industry calls “super-premium juices.” That’s code for super-pure — and super-pricey. They’re also super-trendy, because they make you feel healthy:

JOHN SICHER: In the U.S., consumers are changing their choices in beverages.

That’s John Sicher, editor of Beverage Digest.

SICHER: They’re getting much more interested in beverages that do more than just taste good and referesh. This is a terrific acquisition for Pepsi because it fits right into that consumer trend.

It’s also a strategic move for Pepsi. Remember earlier this year when the major soft-drink makers agreed to nix the sales of sodas in schools? The drinks may be on the outs, but the vending machines will remain, says Jonathan Rosenblum of PRWatch.org.

JONATHAN ROSENBLUM: Question is, what are they gonna put in them?

The answer appears to be, along with water brands owned by the soda companies, and sports beverages, too: super-premium juice. Terms of the Pepsi-Naked Juice deal weren’t disclosed.

In Los Angeles, I’m Lisa Napoli for Marketplace.

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