Major soft drink companies including Coca-Cola and Pepsico are to revamp their automatic product vendors in order to let the public know the calorie content of the drinks they are buying. The new scheme, which will also see greater numbers of low-sugar and sugar-free drinks added to the machines, is to debut in Chicago at the beginning of 2013.
The move represents further efforts by some of the biggest names in the business to shake off a rally of criticism, which has accused sugar soft drinks as being a key contributor to the national obesity crisis.
Under the official project name of Calories Count, the plan of the American Beverage Association is to eventually rollout the scheme across the country, should its initial run in Chicago prove successful, according to a statement released on Monday.
Consumer groups and health campaigners known to openly criticize soft drinks companies have largely celebrated the announcement of the scheme, admitting of their collective surprise at the proactive nature of the gesture by brands usually know to massively push their products on the public.
Over the last ten year, overall annual sales of leading-brand soft drinks have been steadily decreasing, as thousands of new beverage choices have proved increasingly popular with the American public In addition, highlighting the high sugar and calorie-content of popular carbonated drinks is also said to have contributed to a decline in sales.
In order to compensate and meet the shifting demand, Pepsi and Coke have both increased their scope quite enormously to begin offering everything from sports drinks to mineral waters, adding to their low-calorie and sugar-free portfolios practically by the day.
With vending machined accounting for an estimated 12.5% of all soft drink sales on an annual basis across the US, the new calorie counting initiative has the potential to reach tens of millions of consumer and thus have a drastic impact on health, according to the proposal.
Similar measures are already being introduced across the majority of fast food restaurants and other national chains across the US, where calorie and fat contents are now listed as standard alongside menu items. Any restaurant with 20 or more branches within the US is now required by law to do so.
According to the American Heart Association,a single standard-sized can of carbonated soft drink contains on average 130 calories and up to eight teaspoons of sugar. New York City has already seen the sale of soft drink in quantities above 16-ounces banned by Mayor as of March next year – the man widely considered to be the biggest threat to the industry today.
The new soft drinks Calories Count initiative will begin with trials in Chicago and San Antonio, where large stickers will be applied to vending machines clearly detailing the calorie and sugar-content of the products on offer.