PepsiCo Inc. has announced it is launching a “mid-calorie” soda with less calories than regular soda but a closer resemblance to the real thing than diet soda.
The drink, called “Pepsi Next” has half the calories of regular Pepsi at 60 calories per can, the Associated Press reported. It’s the No. 2 cola company’s biggest product launch in years.
Pepsi Next will get its flavor from a new formula that features a mix of three artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup, the AP reported.
Pepsi and other soda makers have gone down this mid-calorie road before – and stumbled, MSN Money reported. Pepsi launched Pepsi Edge, a drink with half the sugar and calories of regular Pepsi, in 2004 but pulled it off the shelves a year later due to weak sales. Coca-Cola’s Coke C2, introduced around the same time, lasted only a few years for the same reason.
“The problem was that consumers either wanted regular soda or a diet drink with zero calories — not something in between,” John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest, told the AP.
But Pepsi needs to put some fizz back in its North American soft drink business, as it’s lost market share against the Coca-Cola Co., Reuters reported. Earlier this month, PepsiCo Chief Executive Indra Nooyi said the company would increase advertising and cut 8,700 jobs.
Sales in the $74 billion soft drink industry have been falling steadily since 2005, according to industry-tracker Beverage Digest, the AP reported, as consumers increasingly reach for bottled water or sports drinks to quench their thirst.
Pepsi Next will start appearing in stores nationally by the end of March, according to the AP.
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