Coke, Pepsi and other soda brands have long been a mainstay in American society. Yet the industry today is experiencing a “sustained and serious decline,” as people and policy makers look for and encourage healthier options.
The New York Times has a comprehensive report on this significant decline, calling the trend “the largest change in the American diet in the last decade.” The article shows that while soda companies have succeeded in blocking taxes on their products in a variety of American cities, they are still losing overall, especially Philadelphia, which famously failed to pass a soda tax in 2010, but has made the largest strides in educating consumers about the health risks associated with soda. As a result, teen consumption of soda has dropped 24 percent from 2007 to 2013 in the city, compared to 20 percent nationwide. Childhood obesity has also experienced a “sustained decline” in Philadelphia for the past seven years.
The policies that help? Philadelphia’s school districts prohibit the sale of soda and other sugary drinks, while the city as a whole limits their availability in vending machines. Public health officials have launched coordinated campaigns about soda, treating it as “the new tobacco.” Principals and other school officials have gone the extra mile in getting children to limit their soda intake, by offering classroom breakfasts and even asking convenience stores not to sell soda to their students in the morning.
In addition, some corner stores in Philadelphia’s poorer neighborhoods have the support of non-profits like the Food Trust, which has hung signs in these stores with mild warnings like, “Did you know it takes 65 minutes of dancing to work off a bottle of soda?” At the same time, sales in bottled water have surged, with bottled water estimated to surpass soda in sales by 2017, a prospect that soda companies who own these brands are benefiting from, yet are still unexcited about since people haven’t developed loyalty to certain brands of water like they have in the past with soda. To adapt, these companies are offering new beverages, such as iced teas, sports drinks and flavored water, and are also offering smaller cans of soda, for which customers end up paying a higher price per ounce.
(via New York Times)