Soda giant Pepsi announced plans to slash the sugar content in a majority of its beverages by 2025. The company has promised that two-thirds of its drink roster in its “global beverage portfolio” will contain 100 calories or less of added sugar by their cut-off year, says NPR. This number applies to drinks that are single-servings, which usually amounts to around 12 ounces.
PepsiCo doesn’t only make soda. They also own other brands, such as Tropicana, Gatorade, Naked Juice, and more, which will probably see the brunt of the sugar cut. Pepsi additionally plans to reduce the amount of saturated fat and sodium in its food products, as PepsiCo owns Frito-Lay, which makes the eponymous Fritos and Lay’s chips, not to mention Cheetos and Doritos, according to CNN. Overall, experts and health advocates have called Pepsi’s pledge a “meaningful commitment,” according to NPR.
Pepsi’s announcement was influenced in part by dietary guidelines put forward by the World Health Organization, which recommends limiting sugar consumption so it only comprises a maximum of 10 percent of a person’s daily caloric intake. Pepsi also has consumer trends in mind. According to CNN, more and more people are worried about their sugar intake and its impact on their health. However, diet sodas are not a good alternative, because consumers are also worried about the chemicals in these drinks, such as the controversial sweetener aspartame. As a result, big soda companies like Pepsi and Coca-Cola are struggling to adapt to this change in consumer tastes.
Pepsi actually went so far as to remove aspartame completely in all of its products, says CNN, but the company eventually reintroduced the questionable sweetener in September of 2016. Their reasoning was that their customers wanted more options, even if artificial sweeteners like aspartame have been linked to diabetes and obesity.
Big soda has come under recent scrutiny for the role they play in the obesity epidemic in the United States, not to mention the proliferation of type II diabetes. In regard to these national health problems, Buzzfeed points out that sugar has become “public enemy number one” in the average American diet according to health regulators and advocates.
According to NPR, measures have recently been passed in cities like Philadelphia, which place a tax on drinks with high sugar content. Similar measures are going to the polls in November, where consumers will decide whether or not to tax sugary drinks in their own cities. Places like San Francisco and Boulder are putting these initiatives to the vote. On the other side of the coin, some big soda companies are trying to defeat these high-sugar tax initiatives. The American Beverage Association in particular spent over $4.2 million in anti-tax advertising alone, according to NPR.
In addition to its health-conscious changes, PepsiCo also plans to reduce its environmental footprint. The company will implement a plan to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by the year 2030, says CNN. They have already enacted some environmentally-friendly practices, which have been in place since 2010. These have saved water and energy and have reduced waste, which in turn have saved the company hundreds of millions of dollars.