The initiative comes as consumers move away from soda toward healthier beverages. Pepsi, in particular, has seen declining sales, and voters in several US cities will decide on soda taxes on November 8, 2016.
Less than a month before voters in several US cities decide whether to impose soda taxes, PepsiCo today unveiled a 3-part global sustainability program that will cut sugar from its beverages and salt and fat from its food products, among other steps.
The program, which also seeks to reduce the company’s “environmental footprint” with more efficient manufacturing processes and improved agricultural practices, was hailed by the nutrition advocacy group, Center for Science in the Public Interest. The group supports soda taxes and other efforts to reduce obesity worldwide.
The third part of the program is a supplier code of conduct that seeks to invest $100 million to benefit women and girls around the globe, as well as programs to ensure a diversified workforce and pay equity.
“The planet is facing unprecedented challenges that require us to make transformational change to the way we grow the economy, feed the world, and provide dignified employment,” said Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the World Resources Institute. “I welcome the breadth of PepsiCo’s approach and I urge the company to continue leading on these important issues.”
PepsiCo’s move comes as US soda consumption, and that of Pepsi in particular, continues a multi-year decline as consumers move to healthier alternatives. Diet brands have fared no better as the public is wary of the health effects of artificial sweeteners and whether drinking diet soda actually helps people keep weight off.
For PepsiCo, the announcement covers not only beverages, but also its varied food brands, which include snacks such as Cheetos and Fritos under the Frito-Lay brands, as well as Quaker Foods.
The company’s goals through 2025 call for:
· At least two-thirds of its global beverage portfolio volume will have 100 calories or fewer from added sugars per 12-ounce serving.
· At least three-fourths of its global foods portfolio volume will not exceed 1.1 grams of saturated fat per 100 calories.
· At least three-fourths of its global foods portfolio volume will not exceed 1.3 milligrams of sodium per calorie.
In addition, the company said it will set higher growth goals for its “Everyday Nutrition” foods than the rest of its products. The “Everyday Nutrition” foods feature whole grains, fruits and vegetables, dairy protein, and hydration. The company will also make more high-quality nutritious food available (3 billion servings) to “underserved communities and consumers.”
Pepsi’s move comes as the company and its competitors face increased market and regulatory pressure to make its products healthier. The FDA has approved new product labels that will highlight added sugars; in January, the CDC highlighted that nearly 9 in 10 Americans consumes more sodium than recommended. The American Heart Association just came out with recommendations to scale back how much sugar children should consume.
On Election Day, November 8, 2016, 3 communities in the San Francisco Bay area and Boulder, Colorado, will vote on soda taxes. Philadelphia’s City Council approved a tax in June that is set to take effect January 1, 2016, but PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and the American Beverage Association are suing to stop it from taking effect.
Mexico’s soda tax has been credited with a 6% drop in soda purchases, and early health results were promising. Beverage companies were criticized by the World Health Organization for trying to repeal Mexico’s tax; instead, the health group called on more nations to do the same.