Listen To The Story

PepsiCo is rolling out plans today that would, among other things, reduce the amount of sugar in its soft drinks and improve water efficiency.

According to the company, at least two-thirds of its drinks will have 100 calories or less, per 12 ounces.

The move comes as there is increasing pressure on “Big Soda" for the role they play in the obesity epidemic.

Pepsi set a target date for implementation by 2025, so still many years out. But sales of pop have been decreasing for some time.

“Part of this are probably changes Pepsi would have been making anyway,” said Kelly Brownell, the Dean of Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

Even though both Pepsi and Coke have spent millions lobbying against measures such as soda taxes. But giving consumers more low-calorie choices is a step in the right direction.

In their defense, there are some things that they show some willingness to do. And they have great potential to reformulate their products to have less sugar,” Brownell said.

But even as Coke and Pepsi plan to cut calories from their soda pop, Nik Modi, a beverage industry analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said consumers still like their sugar fix. Think of all those Starbucks lattes and energy drinks.

“So there’s plenty of anomalies to point out in the industry to suggest that consumers still don’t mind sugar, bubbles, caffeine and flavor,” Modi said. 

Coke also has a plan to reduce calories by 10 percent per liter by 2020, and expand low-calorie options into every one of its markets.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow Adam Allington at @aallington