Can Craft Sodas Revive PepsiCo’s Slumping Sales?

Can Pepsi Revive the Slumping Soda Market With ‘Craft’ Sodas?

PepsiCo is eager for your business—for any business—as sales of sodas are on the decline in both sweetened and diet categories. The brand’s latest effort is called Stubborn Soda, and according to PepsiCo, these craft sodas are free from high fructose corn syrup and rely on ‘natural’ flavors instead of artificial ingredients.

The announcement comes on the heels of PepsiCo’s big change to its iconic Diet Pepsi product, which has been reformulated with Splenda (sucralose), a less controversial sweetener than aspartame (found in NutraSweet, the longtime artificial sweetener of choice in many popular diet soft drinks including Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi).

Stubborn Soda’s lineup includes flavors black cherry with tarragon, orange hibiscus, pineapple cream, and agave vanilla cream.

A PepsiCo spokesperson told the Associated Press that Stubborn Soda is still in “incubation,” and there are no restaurant clients to announce at this time.

“It’s very new, they’re still learning from it and reaching out,” the spokesperson said.

PepsiCo says the name Stubborn Soda comes from the company’s determination to “come up with flavor profiles we know consumers will love,” reports Beverage Daily.

But consumers seem not to be loving soft drinks, be they craft sodas or not. Sales of both sweetened and diet sodas have been steadily declining in recent years as consumers become more aware of the health risks connected to both too much sugar or corn syrup (such as obesity, diabetes and behavioral issues), and the risks connected to artificial sweeteners, which can include weight gain, headaches, developmental issues and increased risks of cancer.

But PepsiCo seems determined to forge ahead with Stubborn, launching the beverages in soda fountains this summer. The company says it will have a “tap-like pouring ritual” that could offer consumers a craft beer feel. The company has not announced plans to offer Stubborn Soda in cans or bottles yet.

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.