Rumors are that the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has formally endorsed Pepsi’s Tropicana fruit juices and Quaker cereals as part of a “partnership for health.” Can Indian consumers distinguish one Pepsi product from another. As I mentioned last year (see posts under “India”), I saw Pepsi products everywhere I went in India, even in the most remote villages, and these were not fruit juices or cereals; they were chips. The IMA denies that it is doing this for money. Maybe so, but rumors suggest otherwise and it is difficult to imagine why else the group would do such a thing. Perhaps it is just a matter of solidarity with Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo’s India-born CEO.
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The Wall Street Journal reports that sales of Coke and Pepsi and other top brands slipped last year by a percentage point or two. They can’t keep up in the face of rising commodity costs, prices, and the popularity of vitamin waters and sports drinks. The drop might seem like a blip but these companies have stockholders to please and are supposed to be growing and increasing their sales every quarter. So it’s no surprise that the WSJ is taking such a hard look at the declining bottom lines. Expect to see even more production of functional drinks, sweetened and not, and at higher prices, of course.
Um. I think this may be a joke but I am indebted to Ellen Fried for sending this item. The British intend to beam a commercial for Doritos (Frito Lay/PepsiCo) into outer space. The story ostensibly quotes Prince Charles: “Hopefully, like humans, they [aliens in space] will think our chips look absolutely delicious and want to try some. If the first word the aliens say when they land in their spaceship is Doritos, we will be delighted. The signal takes years to reach the star but if there are any aliens on the way here already maybe they will pick it up.”
Those of us who live in New York and are in shock over our Governor’s escapades can use some levity today. So let’s thank Prince Charles for that and his other good work on behalf of the environment.
Eating Liberally’s “kat” took me to see Frank Rich’s interview with Stephen Colbert last night and what fun that was! But no such thing as a free event, apparently. Today, kat wants to know what I think about Doritos’ sponsorship of Colbert’s campaign. Take a look at her question and my response and weigh in on this, please. Even if it’s a joke…?
While I am on the subject of food company sponsorship of nutrition and medical professionals, I might as well say something about sponsored research. Analyses of the phenomenon show that when research is sponsored by food companies, it almost always produces results that favor the sponsor’s products. Two recent examples from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: a study comparing the effects of soft drinks sweetened with high fructose corn syrup or sugar (sucrose) finds no difference in perceived sweetness, hunger, or calorie intake. I wouldn’t expect it to, but the study was funded by a grant from the American Beverage Association, which has a vested interest in proving that soft drinks have no effect on obesity. This next one is even better: here is a study showing that if you eat corn or tortilla chips fried in corn oils, which are largely polyunsaturated, your blood cholesterol will be healthier than if you eat chips fried in saturated and trans fats. I thought we knew that already. But doing a study like this gives the sponsor a usable conclusion: “Therefore, if chosen wisely, even snack foods that are often considered to be ‘junk food’ can contribute to a heart-healthy diet.” Would it surprise you to learn that the study was funded in part by Frito-Lay/PepsiCo? I wonder how long it will take to see this research celebrated in Frito-Lay ads.