Soda’s big 2 OK with pulling sugary drinks

Dick Uliano,

WASHINGTON – There’s a lot of talk lately about restricting large sugary soft drinks. But some soda opponents may not know Pepsi and Coke are quite willing to pull their sugary drinks from schools.

It may seem to defy conventional wisdom, but in a recent Washington Post Live webcast on global health, Pepsico Vice President of Global Health Policy Derek Yach made clear that Pepsi is ready to stop selling sodas in schools.

“Pepsico committed to remove and eliminate the direct sale of soft drinks from schools worldwide, and we’ve made progress in 100 countries. We’ve actually done that,” Yach said.

He went on to say that Pepsi’s competitor Coca Cola made similar moves.

Why would the big soft drink makers willingly pull their sodas out of schools?

Yach points out that both companies, “have a full range of low and mid-calorie options that are doing very well here (in the United States) and around the world.”

Pepsi owns the Tropicana juice brand. Coke owns the Minute Maid juice brand. Both companies also sell a wide array of bottled waters and energy drinks. If sugary soft drinks were pulled from schools, the companies could simply replace them with their healthful alternative brands.

But Yach went on to explain that there must be a guarantee under such a plan that if one company removed its sugary sodas that those drinks would not be replaced by another company’s sugary sodas.

“If one element did it and the other was going to continue, you would have a competitive disadvantage and no company is going to voluntarily give up a market if they know that somebody else is going to pick it up. That would be seen as irresponsible by the shareholders.”

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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