Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pepsi With Sugar in Test Markets

Pepsi has noticed the consumer resistance to the featured ingredient in its U.S. soft drinks. Consumers have become reluctant to eat and drink the artificial sugar called high fructose corn syrup because it has been linked to weight gain, apparently just by increasing the appetite of people who consume it. Recent tests showed that much of U.S.-made high fructose corn syrup also contains mercury, a toxic heavy metal that reduces brain function and causes numerous other kinds of damage at the cellular level. There isn’t much indication of mercury from high fructose corn syrup finding its way into soft drinks, but the publicity connecting mercury and high fructose corn syrup nevertheless might have been what led Pepsi to look for a high fructose corn syrup alternative.

The alternative it found is, of course, sugar, and Pepsi is test-marketing a version of Pepsi based on sugar in 10 cities. The new soft drink, Pepsi Natural, will cost extra but, along with real sugar, will feature real cola flavor rather than the mostly artificial flavor found in most cola. In this sense, you can think of it as a brown version of the original Crystal Pepsi from a generation ago.

Sugar is the sweetener found in soft drinks in most of the world, but most U.S. soft drinks use high fructose corn syrup because of the higher price of sugar in the United States.

Refined white sugar is a food with problems of its own, but that shouldn’t obscure the fact that it is a big step up from high fructose corn syrup. It tells you something that even though refined white sugar is potentially more addictive than high fructose corn syrup (it’s no accident that it’s used as a cocaine additive), it does not have the link to weight gain that has been found with high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.