Beverage Giants Consent to Cut Calories

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Beverage Giants Consent to Cut Calories


NEW YORK — The Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc., Dr Pepper Snapple Group and the American Beverage Association (ABA) worked out a landmark agreement with The Alliance for a Healthier Generation to decrease beverage calories in the American diet, the organizations announced Tuesday.

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation was founded by the American Heart Association and the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. 

"I am excited about the potential of this voluntary commitment by the beverage industry. It can be a critical step in our ongoing fight against obesity," said President Bill Clinton. "Our work with beverage companies to reduce the number of calories shipped to schools by 90 percent demonstrates the power of creative cooperation. We look forward to continuing to work together to achieve the goals outlined in this commitment."

The beverages companies' goal is to reduce beverage calories consumed per person nationally by 20 percent by 2025. They plan to reach this goal through a two-pronged approach:

National Initiative — The beverage companies will leverage their marketing, innovation and distribution strength to increase and sustain consumer interest in and access to beverage options that help them reduce calories consumed. Water and other lower-calorie beverages are expected to grow significantly through these efforts, the companies said.

The companies will also engage in consumer education and outreach efforts to increase consumer awareness of and interest in the wide array of no- and lower-calorie beverages, along with available smaller portion sizes. Each company will provide calorie counts and promote calorie awareness on all company-controlled point-of-sale equipment nationwide. This includes more than 3 million vending machines, self-serve fountain dispensers, and retail coolers in convenience stores, restaurants and other locations.

Community Initiative — Each beverage company commits to focus efforts in communities where there has been less interest in and/or access to options that help consumers reduce their calories, with a goal of achieving a 20-percent-per-person reduction of calories consumed from beverages in these communities within 10 years.

The companies will promote consumption of their bottled water products and may also undertake activities such as: introducing and expanding new lower-calorie products and smaller-portion packages; product placement such as end aisle and checkout displays that feature only reduced-calorie beverages; merchandising efforts such as repositioning reduced-calorie beverages on shelves; providing coupons and other incentives that promote no/lower-calorie options; and taste tests/sampling programs in- and out-of-store.

"This is the single-largest voluntary effort by an industry to help fight obesity and leverages our companies' greatest strengths in marketing, innovation and distribution," stated ABA President and CEO Susan Neely. "This initiative will help transform the beverage landscape in America. It takes our efforts to provide consumers with more choices, smaller portions and fewer calories to an ambitious new level. We're proud to continue our successful partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and President Clinton, and further our commitment to bring meaningful solutions to families and communities nationwide."

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple Group will retain an independent, third-party evaluator, in conjunction with the Alliance, to track progress and interim benchmarks toward their commitments. The beverage industry and the Alliance will work jointly to define the reporting schedule for all aspects of this agreement, according to the announcement.

"Calories from beverages such as regular sodas and fruit drinks make up 6 percent of Americans' daily caloric intake," said Dr. Howell Wechsler, CEO of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. "Reducing the number of calories consumed from beverages in the United States is imperative to helping curb obesity. We commend the beverage industry for making this strong commitment to reducing the number of beverage calories consumed per person by 20 percent."