The company has committed to reduce the sodium content of “key foods” by 25 percent by 2015, the saturated fat content of “key foods” by 15 percent by 2020, and the added sugar content in “key drinks” by 25 percent by 2020. It plans to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and low-fat dairy into its product line and to develop new artificial salts and low- or no-calorie sweeteners. Pepsi also plans to expand and triple the sales of its healthier product lines, including Naked juice, Tazo tea, Tropicana and Quaker.
The announcement that drew the most attention, however, is the company’s commitment to stop selling full-sugar beverages in schools worldwide by 2012. The move is an expansion of a policy implemented in U.S. schools in 2006.
Under the new policy, Pepsi will sell only water, fat-free and low-fat milk, and sugar-free juice for general consumption in primary schools. Gatorade will be made available only “when physical activity is carried out — in special relation to sports, not for everyday use,” according to Derek Yach, the company’s senior vice president of global health policy. The same rules will be in force in secondary schools, except that low-calorie (diet) drinks may be sold in those schools.
Pepsi garnered praise for the move, with Kelly Brownell of Yale University comparing it favorably with country-specific pledges by the tobacco industry. Yet even the much-lauded school policy has its loopholes. Aside from the vague guidelines over when sugary sports drinks can be sold, the new policy still allows Pepsi to sell sugary fruit juices. In addition, Brownell noted, whether the policies will lead to an overall decrease in caloric consumption remains to be seen.