PepsiCo commits to salt and sugar cuts in food

PepsiCo is planning dramatic cuts to the salt and sugar content in its brands such as Pepsi, Quaker oats and Walkers crisps.

The company said there will be reductions of 25% in sodium content by 2015, compared to 2006 levels. Cuts of a similar scale for sugar and saturated fats are also planned by 2020.

Alongside those reductions, it will increase whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and low-fat dairy in its product portfolio.

Similar steps have been taken recently by other US food companies, such as ConAgra Foods Inc, Kraft Foods Inc and Campbell Soup Co.

The move marks frantic activity in the health agenda among big food companies and comes at the same time as an announcement on front of pack labeling by the Food Standards Agency. PepsiCo will also, by 2012, display calorie counts and key nutrients on its packaging.

Last week, Pepsi said it would to stop sales of full-sugar soft drinks to primary and secondary schools on a global scale by 2012.

The policy will apply in all countries outside the US, where the firm has an existing policy, which will not change.

The soft drinks manufacturer is establishing a “consistent global approach” to the sale of soft drinks to schools.

Pepsi UK is also seeking to boost its on-the-go market share by increasing the size of its no-sugar soft drink bottles to 600ml from 12 April. Bottles of Diet Pepsi, Pepsi Max, 7Up Free and Tango will be increased from 500ml to 600ml, in a bid to boost interest in the brands.

The company already focuses its international television adverts on Pepsi Max, with the latest ad starring footballers Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres.

Coke, meanwhile, says it will boost awareness of the Coke Zero variant, but will continue to “deliver broad choice across the Coca-Cola portfolio, bringing together both sugar and no-sugar variants within our ’open happiness’ brand campaign”.

More than four fifths of those participating in a recent MarketingWeek.co.uk poll would consider swapping from full sugar carbonated drinks to lower sugar or no sugar alternatives.

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