When it comes to popular food and beverage brands, most consumers would probably be against changing the formula or recipe, but that’s exactly what’s happening over at PepsiCo., as the company is using a new sweetener for its lower calorie product Diet Pepsi, and it's doing a good job of sneaking the change past consumers.
The reason for the change has more to do with preserving the sweet flavor of Diet Pepsi for longer periods rather than changing the taste.
Currently, the carbonated beverage contains the sweetener aspartame, but soon an ingredient called acesulfame potassium will be added, which makes the original flavor of the soda last longer. Rumors of the impending change were reported by ConsumerAffairs last August.
The additive is used in many food and beverage products like ice cream, fruit juices, yogurts and a host of other items. Even mouthwash and tooth paste contain the chemical preservative.
Although Pepsi isn’t hiding the fact that it’s making the ingredient change, it’s safe to say the company doesn’t want to cause a consumer stir by making a big announcement, which could make Diet Pepsi lovers think the taste is going to be altered.
In a quiet statement made by PepsiCo, the company explained the reason for the ingredient change. “To ensure consistency with every sip,” the company said it is adding a “very small amount” of acesulfame potassium.
The addition of the chemical ingredient comes on the heels of not only a huge new advertising push by Pepsi—including a $50 million deal with the pop singer Beyoncé to be a spokeswoman for the brand—but also right after a back-and-forth began with the company that makes SodaStream.
In recent months, the SodaStream makers created a TV commercial that urges consumers to shun big-brand sodas and make their own beverages at home.
If you’ve seen the new commercial, it shows several people using the carbonation machine while plastic soda bottles--that resemble Pepsi and Coke products--explode each time the SodaStream button is pushed.
Banned in Britain
Clearcast, an organization that pre-approves commercials for British programming, banned the SodaStream ad in the U.K. saying it unfairly led consumers to think that making soda at home is better for the environment because bottles aren’t being used.
“The ad could be seen to tell people not to go to supermarkets and buy soft drinks, instead help to save the environment by buying a SodaStream. We thought it was denigration of the bottled drinks market,” said Clearcast.
In a retaliatory blow, SodaStream not only expanded the UK-banned commercial to 59 other countries, but it also purchased an extremely pricey ad slot for this year’s Super Bowl, which is the most-watched television event of the year.
With SodaStream growing in popularity, both Pepsi and Coke are starting to react with new product strategies and it’s rumored that both companies will be releasing their own versions of soda-making machines and syrups in the near future.
In the past year market share for SodaStream went up by 38 percent, which shows just how well the home soda company has been doing since it first came on to the market.
In a move that’s very David and Goliath-esque, SodaStream seems to be extremely eager to take on the soda giants of Pepsi who have the No. 3 beverage in the U.S. in terms of sales. Coca-Cola stands at No. 1.
Whether Pepsi’s advertising push and its new additive will bring the company a heftier amount of success in the coming year remains to be seen, but Pepsi spokespeople say cans and bottles with the new ingredient will be in stores and vending machines in the upcoming weeks.
Some stores in the U.S. are already carrying Diet Pepsi with acesulfame potassium.
“It’s not like a light switch,” said PepsiCo representative Andrea Canabal. “It’ll start appearing as shelf space clears."
Acesulfame potassium has been approved eight different times by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since 1988, and has been deemed safe, though it’s reported to be 100 times sweeter than sugar.
In addition, nutrition experts say the non-caloric preservative doesn’t store up in your body and is quickly absorbed after consumption.