US soft drinks drifting back towards sugar

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 6th July 2010

Drink cansSoft drinks in the United States are trending back towards sugar, with the recent announcement by The Dr Pepper Snapple Group that it will switch Dr Pepper back to sugar from high-fructose corn syrup, for a limited time as part of its 125th anniversary celebrations. The reformulated product will also bear nostalgic Dr Pepper slogans and can designs.

PepsiCo’s Sierra Mist product is also rumoured to be about to reformulate into Sierra Mist Natural, with sugar instead of HFCS. Other sugar-based soft drinks, including kosher and Mexican-made versions of Coca-Cola, fetch a premium in the US. A nostalgic real-sugar campaign by Pepsi, ‘Throwback’, was also extremely successful.

HFCS was introduced in the 1970s as a cheaper alternative to sugar in the US, but is widely believed to be less healthy, particularly in regard to weight gain. Research on the product’s effects has been inconclusive.

‘Nostalgia’ campaigns provide an ideal testing ground for soft-drink manufacturers, allowing them to test the market for sugar-sweetened soft drinks without admitting that their HFCS products are inferior or less healthy.