Leaders of the soft drink beverage industry are taking steps to help keep consumers informed on the calorie content of the sodas they purchase. Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. (NYSE:DPS) have announced plans to introduce new vending machines that will display how many calories are in each drink option before the customer makes his or her selection.
Giant soft drink companies have become an easy target for public criticism surrounding America’s increasing obesity problem. The companies hope the new machines will symbolize their willingness to do their part in helping the cause, while also raising awareness amongst those who drink their products. The vending machines will increase availability of lower-calorie drink options and will even make friendly suggestions to customers by displaying messages like “Try a Low Calorie Beverage.”
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The new machines will be launched in Chicago and San Antonio municipal buildings in 2013 before they are later installed nationwide.
Soft drink makers like Coke and Pepsi have been feeling extra pressure lately from a number of different angles. In addition to the growing popular sentiment that soda companies are partially responsible for the nation’s health issues, the beverage industry suffered a blow last month when New York City successfully passed an initiative to ban the sale of all sugary drinks in quantities greater than 16 ounces in the city’s restaurants, stadiums and movie theatres.
On top of that, soda companies must grapple with the reality that fewer and fewer Americans are drinking their sugar-loaded products. According to industry tracker Beverage Digest, soft drink consumption per-capita has been declining in the U.S. since 1998. Such statistics are forcing companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Dr Pepper to invest in new drink options and diversify their product lines to offer more alternatives to soda.