As a response to consumers concerns regarding artificial additives and also in an attempt to deal with the sales drop PepsiCo said it will switch the aspartame in Diet Pepsi to sucralose. Although it still is an artificial sweetener sucralose is less controversial.
In the first quarter of this year the sales in Diet Pepsi dropped 3.2%. As a result the company has decided to do something about it, meaning changing the recipe. This move is considered the most daring soda reformulation since Coca-Cola’s New Coke. John Sicher of Beverage Digest commented on this saying that it is an assertive move which can help the company win new fans and regain the lost ones. However, according to Sicher, this can also make some loyal Diet Pepsi consumers confused in spite of the fact that not the flavor is what changes, but just the sweetener blend.
Starting with august the aspartame will be replaced with sucralose and ace-K. According to senior vice president of Pepsi and flavors, Seth Kaufman, the change was not made because aspartame was not safe for consumption, but because this is what the consumers requested. The company listens to the consumers’ wishes and if Diet Pepsi consumers’ first concern is aspartame removal then the company must do as the consumers want, Kaufman said.
According to consumer surveys aspartame was indeed the main cause to why Americans avoided drinking diet soda. The new formula of Pepsi Diet was chosen after extensive research and after taste-test trials in which diet soda drinkers in the US were involved.
The substitution does not guarantee significant changes. This is owing to the fact that the new formula may change the taste of Diet Pepsi and to the fact that what PepsiCo does is simply change an artificial sweetener for another.
Coca-Cola seems to have been taken by surprise with the new changes introduced by PepsiCo. When asked about his opinion on this change Muhtar Kent, Coke chief executive, did not mention whether he intends to make similar changes in the case of Diet Coke too.
Independent branding consultant, Dean Crutchfield, remarked:
“The big question is does Coke follow, because that’s the big brand, but they would be following in Pepsi’s footsteps. There’s tension involved.”
Kent said that he does not defend aspartame since according to the European Food Safety it is one of the most researched and safe ingredients in the world. Later Coca-Cola declared that they do not have any intention of changing the sweetener in Diet Coke.
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