Here are the food, beverage, retail, and restaurants that show up as among the top 250 companies, worldwide. I only included sales and profits in this table; you would have to add in assets and market value to understand the ranking system.
Food, beverage, retail, and restaurant companies among the biggest 250 companies worldwide.
Mondelēz International, US
*About 40% of sales are from food.
This is why Walmart is the elephant in the food-business room.
PepsiCo has pledged to put real money behind promoting healthy foods, and it is doing just that with a new Tropicana campaign—Morning Spark.
The idea is to get millennials to drink orange juice in the morning, especially Tropicana OJ.
The campaign is going on the APlus.com site, whose cofounder is Ashton Kutcher.
The idea is to
introduce Tropicana to new audiences in new ways, through compelling and engaging content that people can connect to and want to share. Approaching 70 years, Tropicana is a heritage brand and realizes that today, more than ever, we can bring something people truly need to America’s breakfast tables – positivity and optimism. We hope this is the first step in redefining what Tropicana stands for in America’s households.
To create the first video, Tropicana visited a coffee shop in Brooklyn on a weekday morning to hand out compliments to people and see if it sparked a change in their attitude, and it did. To see people light up and smile when we told them something positive we noticed was truly amazing. We can’t wait to do more of these efforts with A Plus. Celebrities who shared the launch video: Ashton Kutcher, Adam Levine, Robin Thicke and Lil Wayne.
What is this about really? “The orange juice category has faced challenges including declining sales, nutrition misconceptions and disease threatening citrus crops.”
The campaign points out the benefits of OJ: One 8-ounce glass of Tropicana’s 100% orange juice provides:
A day’s supply of vitamin C – an antioxidant that promotes healthy skin and gums, helps your body to absorb iron from food and helps maintain a healthy immune system.
Folic acid, which is essential for women of childbearing age.
As much potassium as a banana. Potassium helps to maintain healthy blood pressure, among other benefits.
Funny thing: the campaign does not mention the 22 grams of sugars in 8 ounces.
Really, I have no trouble with 8 ounces of orange juice even though it must represent the juice of at least three oranges.
And really, freshly squeezed OJ is utterly delicious. It is also less sweet than Tropicana.
For nutritional purists, an orange is a better choice.
But I’m totally for advertising healthier products, so let’s give Pepsi credit for this campaign.
The sustainability promises look good, but reporters called me for comments only on the first goal in its Products agenda:
At least two-thirds of Pepsi’s global beverage portfolio volume will have 100 calories or fewer from added sugars per 12-ounce serving.
For the record, the other Product goals are:
At least three-quarters of its global foods portfolio volume will not exceed 1.1 grams of saturated fat per 100 calories.
At least three-quarters of its global foods portfolio volume will not exceed 1.3 milligrams of sodium per calorie.
The reporters’ questions assumed that Pepsi plans to reduce the sugar in its full-sugar beverages.
Maybe, but that’s not clear from the press release or the report.
Here’s what I want to know:
The baseline: What proportion of Pepsi drinks already have fewer than 100 calories per 12 ounces? Pepsi makes loads of beverages that meet that target—Gatorade, bottled waters, diet sodas.
The marketing plan: Will the marketing dollars shift from full-sugar to lower-sugar options?
I ask, because Pepsi’s track record on sugar reduction is not encouraging. In 2009, Pepsi set a goal to reduce the average amount of added sugars in its drinks by 25% by 2020.
The result? An increase in average sugars of 4% so far (Pepsi got into trouble with investors who wanted marketing focused on full-sugar beverages).
Pepsi’s sustainability report says the company is working hard to find ways to reduce sugars and “these efforts could yield significant progress.” Let’s hope they do.
The report also explains how the company plans to reach its lower-sugar goal:
Creating new low-and no-calorie drinks
Making smaller sizes
Boosting promotion of lower-calorie drinks
I hope the company does these things, despite its unfortunate record on sugar promises. We need to wait and see whether the company delivers on this one.
But I’m thinking: Surely this announcement must be designed to head off the ongoing soda tax initiatives. Pepsi is pouring millions of dollars into fighting the taxes directly and through its membership in the American Beverage Association.
Pepsi wants to have things both ways: to appear to promote healthier beverages while it is fighting public health measures to reduce soda intake.
Let’s give the company the benefit of the doubt and hope it delivers on its promises—while doing everything we can to get those taxes passed.
The last time Pepsi tried to position itself as doing something for health, its investors got very upset,” Marion Nestle, a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies & Public Health at New York University, said in an email. In 2012, investors got mad at PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi for focusing on getting revenue from healthy products, Business Insider reported.
“[PepsiCo] will continue to do everything it can to promote its most profitable products,” Nestle said. “These, alas, tend to be the ones with full sugar.”
Center for Science in the Public Interest has produced a new report:
It’s a lavishly illustrated and well documented investigative report into soda company marketing in developing countries.
Here’s an example of the documentation, enough to explain why Coke and Pepsi are pouring billions of dollars into bottling plants and marketing in India:
For anyone interested in the nutrition transition from undernutrition to overnutrition in developing countries, this report is a must read. Actually, it’s a must read for anyone who cares about diet and health. If you do nothing else, look at the marketing illustrations from Nepal, Indonesia, or Nigeria. They tell the story on their own.
An editor at the New York Times invited me to write an op-ed on the proposed landmarking of the East River Pepsi-Cola sign, but then said:
We’re not going to use this. People really love that Pepsi sign so much that they don’t want to hear arguments against it.
So I offered it to the Daily News. I’ve written for it before. Its editors are highly professional and a pleasure to work with. And it goes to an audience to which I do not usually have access. See what you think.
I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read that the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission had deemed the Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City, Queens, so worthy of permanent preservation that it was considering it for landmark status.
Granted, the neon monument has been part of the East River landscape for the past 80 years. And yes, there is precedent for landmarking a sign rather than a building. Pine Bluff, Ark., chose to landmark a McDonald’s sign, and Cambridge, Mass., preserved a Shell Oil sign.
But the fact is that the Pepsi-Cola sign is a highly visible expression of soda industry marketing. The sign advertises a sugar-sweetened beverage — precisely what the city Health Department has, with good reason, been working hard to discourage New Yorkers from consuming in large quantities.
For the past few years, subway poster campaigns have featured the astonishing amounts of sugar contained in carbonated sodas — close to a teaspoon per ounce. They have also illustrated how this excessive sugar turns to fat in the body, how sugary beverages raise the risk for type 2 diabetes, and how much walking it takes to work off the calories in a single 20-ounce drink — a trek from Union Square to Brooklyn.
And let’s not forget former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ultimately unsuccessful though valiant attempt to set a cap of 16 ounces on sugary beverages sold in places under city jurisdiction.
That particular tactic was hugely controversial. But nobody can seriously dispute that sugary drinks contribute to obesity and its consequences.
Pepsi may be the underdog — Americans drink more Coke — but it is a very large runnerup in the sugary drink category. Its revenues in 2015 amounted to $63 billion worldwide.
Pepsi is Big Soda incarnate. It works hard to maintain that position, spending more than $200 million a year advertising Pepsi-Cola alone. It is also Big Food. Altogether it spends about $2 billion a year on worldwide marketing for all of its products, including Frito-Lay snack foods and other brands.
To generate sales, Pepsi relentlessly targets its marketing to teenagers and young adults and, as part of that approach, generously pays sports and music figures to endorse its products.
We’ve all seen the Super Bowl ads. We know about the reported $50 million deal with Beyoncé. And like Coca-Cola, although not quite to the same extent, PepsiCo funds health organizations such as the American heart and cancer associations, and contributes to health programs at universities such as Yale. All of this can buy loyalty from health professionals, and also silence from them about the role of soft drinks in health.
Soda advertising is so much a part of the American landscape that most of us don’t even notice it anymore. It is just there. And that’s how the company intends it. As an industry executive once told me, effective advertising is supposed to slip below the radar of critical thinking.
I’m guessing that’s what’s happening with the Pepsi-Cola sign. Its significance as advertising for a sugary drink — one best consumed infrequently and in small amounts — has become unnoticeable. To the landmarks folks, therefore, this is just a quaint piece of history — not an active, pulsating sign promoting something dangerous to human health.
But landmarking the Pepsi sign, which is visible to millions of New Yorkers and tourists every single day, would engage New Yorkers as formal partners in marketing sugary drinks.
I can’t help but remember the Camel cigarette sign in Times Square, for years blowing smoke rings. Would today’s Landmarks Preservation Commission want that billboard preserved for eternity? Or would it blush at the thought of promoting and sustaining an icon of corporate marketing, and of an unhealthful product at that?
In my book, I talk about research demonstrating that hardly anyone can tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, or between colas sweetened with table sugar or high fructose corn syrup. I thought it would be fun to double check.
We asked participants to taste 6 unlabeled soda samples.
The six choices: Coca-Cola, PepsiCola, Caleb soda, Coca-Cola Life, Mexican Coca-Cola, and a duplicate of Coca-Cola.
The idea was to see whether people could tell which was which and whether they could tell the difference between Coke made with high fructose corn syrup (regular Coke), table sugar (Mexican Coke), or Stevia (Coca-Cola Life).
38 people participated. Here are the results:
Coca-Cola: this was identified correctly by 14/38, but only 10 correctly identified the duplicate.
Mexican Coca-Cola: 4/38
Coca-Cola Life: 17/38
Caleb’s Cola: 29/38 (it’s color is distinctly different)
Only one person correctly identified all six. I, alas, only got one right—Caleb’s. It looks different and tastes less sweet.
I’m on a panel with Mary Bassett to celebrate the launch of Nick Freudenberg’s new book, “At What Cost: Modern Capitalism and the Future of Health,” from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. Information and registration here.