PepsiCo has decided to address consumer concerns as to the possible health risks associated with artificial sweeteners (particularly aspartame). As a result, the company has just announced that it would be switching from the allegedly dangerous sweetener to sucralose, a less controversial alternative.
Pepsi’s new formula will debut in August and aspartame will be completely replaced with sucralose and ace-K. Although aspartame has been incriminated as a contributing factor in the development of certain cancers, Seth Kaufman, senior PepsiCo VP. Insists that the recipe modification doesn’t stem from safety concerns but from consumer desires.
In an interview with USA Today, Mr. Kaufman explained that Pepsi’s foremost concern was its consumer’s wishes. It seems that, despite the fact that aspartame is “perfectly safe for consumption”, it’s paramount for diet Pepsi consumers to remove this particular artificial from the formula.
“We’re listening to consumers. It’s what they want,” he added.
Basing this particularly bold reformulation on consumer surveys, Pepsi hopes to correct last year’s 5.2 percent drop in volumes.
Diet Coke, the current market leader also experienced significant volume drops last year (6.6 percent) and with this new move, Pepsi aims at directly rivalling Coca Cola by marketing its new product as “aspartame-free”.
What Pepsi can’t anticipate, however, is how the public will react to such a massive formulation change. Of course, they are delivering what consumers claim they want: aspartame-free Diet Pepsi. But at the same time, the substitution can result in massive taste changes which may drive customers away from the brand.
Moreover, the shift also comes at a critical time in consumer preferences. Natural foods and an overall shift towards unprocessed goods has Pepsi in quite a pickle. Simply swapping out one artificial sweetener for the other may not be enough to convince potential customers.
Despite not having come under such public criticism as aspartame, sucralose and ace-k have also been connected to health concerns. For instance, several scientific studies claim that ace-k may be linked to chromosome abnormalities in the bone marrow of laboratory mice.
In fact, when it comes to consumer safety, aspartame is probably the best bet. The FDA has repeatedly informed consumers that among the most widely tested artificial sweeteners, aspartame is by far the leader as to the body of evidence attesting to its safety.
Diet Pepsi, Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi and Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi will all have new formulations and the question is whether Coca Cola will follow in Pepsi’s footsteps. In such a volatile market, where weight-conscious consumers can easily switch to bottled water, companies such as Pepsi and Coca Cola have to struggle to maintain their competitive edge.
Image Source: crainsnewyork.com
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