PepsiCola’s recent attempts at releasing products to attract environmentally aware consumers is being singled out by some as one of corporate America’s most blatant – and ineffective – attempts at greenwashing the public.
Pepsi recently followed in the steps of Coca-Cola in introducing a “mid-calorie” soda. Pepsi True comes in a green can (to help promote it as being a healthy alternative) and has 60 calories, 30 percent less than a regular Pepsi. It is currently available only on Amazon.com but is expected to be available through traditional retailers by early 2015.
Coca-Cola offers as similar product with its Coca Cola Life. Business observers believe the two soft drink giants are looking to diversify product lines in the face of declining diet drink sales and because of mounting criticism about the role of sodas in the nation’s rising cases of obesity.
A kinder, friendlier soft drink
In announcing Pepsi True, the soft drink company said over the past six years it has been committed to developing products that demonstrate Pepsi’s dedication to “calorie reduction and consumer choice.”
The announcement specifically mentioned Sobe Lifewater, G2 and Trop50, all beverages that lowered the amount of sugar and calories in the regular versions of the drink.
Pepsi said the use of a combination of real sugar and stevia leaf extract helped reduce the amount of sugar in Pepsi True. They also mention the drink contains no high-fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.
Critics applauded the improvement but maintain it doesn’t make drinking soda that much better for you and that it does not live up to its “green” billing.
Pepsi accused of greenwashing
In Salon, an online magazine, an article took Pepsi to task for trying to market Pepsi True and another new product, Caleb Kola, to appeal to “hipsters” and those worried about living a more healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
Caleb Kola is marketed as “craft” soda that is sweetened with real sugar and served in glass bottles. It’s currently available in Costco stores in Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C. and New York. Salon pointed out that while Caleb Kola has not been artificially sweetened, it does contain 29 grams of sugar. That’s less than a regular Pepsi but more than the recommended daily supply of sugar.
The World Health Organization recently dropped its recommended daily intact of sugar to about 25 grams per day. The reason why? For one thing, the National Institutes of Health has conducted studies showing that those who eat more than the recommended amount of sugar end up consuming more calories overall. Ultimately it can lead to a higher risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
“This is still soda we’re talking about,” the article stated. “If consumers are as discerning as Pepsi et al. seem to fear, they’ll just stick to water.”
That sentiment was echoed by one consumer who tasted Pepsi True and was quoted in the New York Daily News. Asked about the product, the taster said, “It’s a canned contradiction, because if you’re trying to be healthy, you’re really supposed to avoid soda.
“Why grant yourself such a small indulgence when flavored seltzer is just as good?”
Image credit Magda Wojtyra, courtesy flickr