by Marion Nestle
Nov 21 2014

Weekend reading: a fresh take on the soda industry

Bartow J. Elmore.  Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism.  Norton, 2015.

 

Elmore is an historian at the University of Alabama, whose book takes a fresh look at how soda companies managed to make fortunes selling cheap sugar water.   Advertising, he says, is only a minor factor in generating soda profits.

The real profits came from a business strategy that offloads the costs and risks onto suppliers, bottlers, and taxpayers.  Soda companies depend on taxpayers for the cost of city water supplies, the recycling discarded cans and bottles, the cleanup of containers that are not recycled, the transportation of sodas to the military,  and the health care of overweight consumers.

The public, he says, should be setting and collecting the price for use of public resources, rather than “accepting the bill for corporate waste.”

 

  • Cathy Richards

    Excellent points, but isn’t this true of any product? Juice is very similar in its production, distribution, and may have a stronger environmental argument (preserving farmland) but has only a weak nutritional argument to justify it. Alchohol, gas, oil, tobacco — all of these also have a high cost to society, but at least they are taxed to reflect the health/environmental costs to some degree, and gas/oil do provide some significant (if not net) societal benefits (transporting food & commodities, heating homes, etc). What about groceries, paper/plastic products, eyewear, shoes, etc. It would be interesting to compare net societal costs of various products vs their benefits.

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  • Unhealthy drinks for your health. One glass of COKE contains 23 Sugar Spoons.