Find the latest episode of "The Uncertain Hour" here. Listen

Soda companies still sweet on schools

Steve Henn Sep 17, 2007


Doug Krizner: You don’t usually hear business groups brag about a drop in sales. But the American Beverage Association is bragging about fewer sugary drink sales in America’s schools. Steve Henn reports.

Steve Henn: Total U.S. soda sales have been falling since 2004 — and one reason might be a recent agreement between the world’s biggest purveyors of sugar drinks and an anti-obesity alliance that got companies like Coke and Pepsi to promise to curtail the sale of their sweetest products in public schools.

Susan Neely represents the industry:

Susan Neely: There’s been a 41 percent cut in total calories in beverages shipped to schools.

But soda companies quietly tweaked their agreement earlier this year, allowing vitamin waters and sweetened teas back into the mix.

Dr. Susan Linn’s a professor at Harvard’s school of public health, and is unimpressed:

Dr. Susan Linn: Sure, soda sales have declined. But what they’ve done is substitute the soda for sugary energy drinks.

Today, roughly two-thirds of all the drinks sold in schools still have huge amounts of sugar, and the vast majority of school systems still have contracts with soda companies.

In Washington, I’m Steve Henn for Marketplace.

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.