After having removed the potential harmful chemical from its Diet Pepsi formula last summer, PepsiCo Inc decided to reintroduce aspartame in low-calorie sodas sold across America.
The company announced Monday that the artificial sweetener will be used in “Diet Pepsi Classic Sweetener Blend,” a brand slated to be launched in September. Aspartame will be present in 20-ounce and 2-liter bottles, and in 12-ounce cans.
Pepsi said that it won’t remove sucralose-swetened Diet Pepsi from the shelves. The offerings, which will be sold simultaneously, will differ in color. Diet Pepsi with sucralose will come in silver cans while the aspartame version will be sold in light blue cans.
When the soda maker removed the artificial sweetener from its Diet Pepsi formulation last summer it argued that the move was a response to consumer concerns that aspartame may be harmful to their health.
The company management blamed stalling sales of diet sodas on aspartame which was vilified in countless reports. Rival Coca-Cola even tried to ease the concerns by running ads that tried to convince consumers aspartame was perfectly safe for human consumption.
But Pepsi’s plan to remove aspartame and replace it with a healthier sweetener somehow backfired. In Q1, aspartame-free Diet Pepsi sales plunged 10.6 percent while aspartame-based Diet Coke sales slipped just 5.7 percent.
Health concerned customers believe that aspartame may lead to cancer as some mouse studies had shown, but the FDA, which approved aspartame for human consumption, claims that over 100 studies had shown that the sweetener is safe to consume.
Pepsi also announced that Pepsi Max will make a comeback as Pepsi Zero Sugar which will also have aspartame in its composition.
Plunging sales of Diet Pepsi may be due to the fact that sucralose or Splenda, the healthier alternative for aspartame, is not as tasty as the aspartame-based versions.
Additionally, industry analysts believe that PepsiCo made a huge marketing mistake: it has revealed to the public that it would change the formulation. Coca Cola did the same mistake back in the 1980s when it tested a new recipe and sales were also negatively impacted.
However, no matter how soft-drink manufacturers put it, soda sales have been on free fall for years. According to a recent report, U.S. soft drink consumption per person dropped to a three-decade low in 2015, and the 2016 figures don’t show an improvement either.
This may be because customers are more and more concerned about the obesity and diabetes epidemics and don’t think that artificial sweeteners can help them out.
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