Sales slump forces Pepsi to drop artificial sweetner in drink

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Apr 25, 2015 21:42 IST

PepsiCo Inc is dropping artificial sweetener Aspartame from Diet Pepsi in an attempt to stop and reverse the slump in sales in the United States in recent years.

The company will switch to a blend of sucralose and acesulfame potassium in Diet Pepsi, Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi and Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi beginning in August.

“Diet cola drinkers in the US told us they wanted aspartame-free Diet Pepsi and we're delivering," said Seth Kaufman, senior vice president of Pepsi and Flavors Portfolio, PepsiCo North America Beverages, in a statement. “We recognize that consumer demand is evolving and we're confident that cola-lovers will enjoy the crisp, refreshing taste of this new product.”

The US food and drug administration, which approved the use of aspartame in 1981, has said there is no proof the artificial sweetener is harmful for health.

“Aspartame is one of the most exhaustively studied substances in the human food supply, with more than 100 studies supporting its safety,” the agency has said. “FDA scientists have reviewed scientific data regarding the safety of aspartame in food and concluded that it is safe for the general population under certain conditions.”

But consumers have been moving away from aspartame-based drinks, which is also used in Coca Cola’s diet offering, believing it causes cancer or other health problems.

Sales of diet sods have also been dropping as part of a general movement away from such drinks in the US, with even longtime users switching to bottled water.

Diet Pepsi volumes fell 5.2% in the US last year, said The Wall Srtreet Journal citing industry tracker Beverage Digest, while U.S. volumes of the market’s leading diet cola, Diet Coke, plunged 6.6% last year.

Diet sodas never took off in India and it could be ascertained if Pepsi will stop using Aspartame in India too — the Friday announcement was only for Diet Pepsi sold in the US.

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