PepsiCo has announced its plan to globally reduce the amount of sugar in its range of soft drinks. The move is part of the company’s plans to address the growing obesity epidemic.
Its target is to reformulate at least two thirds of its soft drinks by 2025, so that they have less than 100 calories from added sugar per 12 oz. can. Approximately 40 percent of PepsiCo’s drinks already meet those requirements.
PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have faced increased scrutiny from governments and nutrition experts who say high-sugar drinks have contributed to the increased rates of obesity and diabetes in the US. The company plans to meet its target both by reformulating existing products, and launching new zero and low-calorie beverages.
According to Mehmood Khan, PepsiCo’s chief scientific officer of research and development, this new target is an improvement over their previous goal of removing 25 percent of sugars in select drinks and markets by 2020. “The science has evolved,” Khan told Reuters. “It’s not just about sweeteners, it’s about understanding the flavor ingredients and having proprietary knowledge and access to them.”
Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that countries should start imposing a sugar tax on sweet soft drinks. While this system has already been implemented in France and Mexico in an attempt to limit consumption of the beverages, PepsiCo is in strong opposition to the tax.
PepsiCo’s nutritional goals also include reducing sodium and saturated fats in some of its snack products, by 2025. About 12 percent of the company’s $63 billion in annual revenue comes from sales of its namesake drink, Pepsi, but the bulk of their profits come from other soft drinks, along with bottled water, juices, snacks and dips.
“These are good steps. But when we have an obesity crisis, I think there is more that we can be doing,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, a non-profit organization focused on sustainability in industry. “If a food and beverage company is not looking at nutrition, they are not looking at the direction the world is going in.”