by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: PepsiCo

Apr 29 2009

Is Stevia really “natural?”

The April 26 New York Times Magazine carried a seductive ad on page 15 for PepsiCo’s “Trop50 orange juice goodness with 50% less calories and sugar…And no artificial sweeteners”  PepsiCo performs this miracle by diluting the juice by half with water (really, you could do this at home).  But in case the result isn’t sweet enough for you, Trop50 adds the sweetener, Stevia.

PepsiCo can get away with claiming that its juice drink has no artificial sweeteners.  Because Stevia is isolated from leaves of the Stevia plant, the FDA lets companies claim it is “natural.”

We can debate whether a chemical sweetener isolated from Stevia leaves is really “natural” but here’s another problem: Stevia doesn’t taste like sugar.  Companies have to fuss with it to cover up its off taste.  And, they must do so “without detracting from the perceived benefits of its natural status.”  Flavor companies are working like mad to find substances that block Stevia’s bitter taste, mask its off flavors, and extend its sweetness, while staying within the scope of what the FDA allows as “natural.”

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from a Stevia PR representative eager for me to see the company’s website.  “Naturally delicious” anyone?

Feb 26 2009

Food marketing news II: Baked Lays

Food marketing is on my mind these days.  It clearly is also on the mind of marketers at Pepsi.   What’s wrong with you women.  You aren’t buying enough Baked Lays? Pepsi’s research on your feelings about snacking and guilt reveals that you want foods that are healthier.  Pepsi’s answer to this problem?  New packaging, of course.   This ad is probably too small to read but here’s what it says: First woman: “These things are the best invention since the push-up bra.”  Second woman: “I wouldn’t go that far.”  I wouldn’t either, alas.

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Feb 25 2009

The news in food marketing: love of Tropicana packaging?

When it comes to food marketing, I know I live on another planet but really, doesn’t the fuss over the packaging of Tropicana go too far?  According to the report in the New York Times, consumers are so upset over Pepsi’s new Tropicana carton design that they have forced Pepsi to withdraw it.  Pepsi, it seems, underestimated the deep emotional bond its customers had with the original packaging.  Deep emotional bond?  With orange juice packaging?  Readers: I need some help with this one.

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As if that weren’t enough, CSPI’s Margo Wootan sends me the latest newsletter from the Council of Better Business Bureaus giving details of voluntary efforts by food companies to improve the nutritional quality of products marketed to kids.   Do these seem like significant improvements?

Finally, the new USDA Secretary has just announced a partnership with Disney and the Ad Council to promote the MyPyramid for kids.  Isn’t this nice of Disney?

Feb 10 2009

Response to Pepsi ads

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Thanks to everyone who sent me this link to this interesting way to interpret those Obama-like Pepsi ads.

Oct 16 2008

Bottled water backlash hits Pepsi

Andrew Martin begins his account of the latest Pepsi quarterly report like this: “Tap water is making a comeback.  That’s bad news for PepsiCo’s profits.”  Sales are down 10%.  Why?  People aren’t buying as much soda or bottled water.  Score one for the environmental movement.

The Environmental Working Group says the plastic bottles are bad for the environment but that’s not all.  Its latest report tests the waters and finds plenty of fertilizer and drug residues in them. Oh great.

Jun 16 2008

Indian Medical Association endorses Pepsi?

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.

Apr 9 2008

Eating liberally asks: are solar-powered junk foods a good thing?

Eating Liberally always asks the most amazing questions. Would you have guessed that solar power could be harnessed to make Frito Lay chips? Not me. Here are my thoughts on the matter. And yours?

Mar 17 2008

Soft drinks in decline?

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.

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