What to make of PepsiCo’s pledge that, by 2025, at least two thirds of its drinks will have 100 calories or fewer from added sugar per 12 oz serving (up from about 40 percent now)?
We agree with Ninjas for Health’s assessment that this is less about public health and more about an industry tactic to stave off regulation that is “strategically timed to affect tax legislation being voted on in November in Oakland, San Francisco, and Boulder.”
This is far from a theory; leaked emails show this is, in fact, right out of the soda industry’s playbook. While the examples below specifically apply to Coca-Cola, there is no doubt PepsiCo has similar goals and ideas.
- “The soda industry’s focus on reformulation is a prominent strategy in the recent #CokeLeak of soda executive emails. Voluntary reformulation replaces policy efforts with the industry’s own “self-regulatory” framework. That’s like letting the wolf guard the henhouse. They have not earned this trust.”
- “Governments and media fall for this industry strategy by reframing all solutions to diabetes and obesity within the soda industry’s voluntary promises to do better. The discussion is immediately distracted from the real public health harms, legislative accountability, and proactive policies that could actually slow disease epidemics being caused by industry.”
- “Another reformulation “success” found in the #CokeLeak involved a Coca-Cola representative internally describing voluntary calorie commitments as a strategy to fight legislation and increase positive perceptions of Coke.”
- “The leaked emails show how strategic and well-orchestrated the soda industry’s policy efforts are timed. The timing of this announcement, just weeks before the election with multiple soda taxes on the ballot, is no accident. It has everything to do with politics.”