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Diet Soda Sales Dropping Faster Than Regular Sodas

Dec 10, 2013, 5:57 AM
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Retail dollar sales of zero- and low-calorie soda plunged 6.8% in the 52 weeks through Nov. 23, while sales of regular sodas declined 2.2%, according to Wells Fargo, citing Nielsen scanner data, reports The Wall Street Journal.

PepsiCo chairman Indra Nooyi recently acknowledged: "We are seeing a fundamental shift in consumer habits and behaviors."

The biggest drag, reports WSJ, is health fears about artificial sweeteners in diet sodas--mainly aspartme, but also sucralose and acesulfame pottasium.

FDA and other government agencies say they're safe (and that studies linking aspartame to cancer were flawed).

But the controversy was fueled by a recent review of research published by Susan Swithers, a Purdue University professor, who argued that the data suggest that frequent consumption of artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose and saccharin is associated with higher risk for weight gain, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, perhaps because the sweeteners trigger "metabolic derangements'' interfering with the body's ability to regulate caloric intake.

The Internet is also rife with posts claiming various supposed side effects and health risks associated with diet soda.

PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are pushing to create new diet sweeteners from stevia and other natural sources, WSJ points out.

A new stevia variant from Coca-Cola and PureCircle Ltd. could get FDA approval soon, and C-C hasn't ruled out bringing its new mid-calorie, stevia-sweetened Coca-Cola Life, now being sold in South America, to the U.S.

PepsiCo dropped aspertame from its own mid-calorie cola Pepsi Next in April, and plans to launch a new diet soda next year. It is "weighing a new stevia variant and a sweetener enhancer developed by Senomyx Inc. that could lower the sucrose, fructose or high-fructose corn syrup in soda without sacrificing taste," reports WSJ.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola this past summer ran ads defending aspartame's safety, and is leveraging Taylor Swift in heavy marketing for Diet Coke. And Dr Pepper Snapple is spending heavily to market its male-targeted, 10-calorie Dr Pepper Ten, launched in 2011. 



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