[vendtalk] Soda industry: Vending machines will show calories

Vandervoort's vandervoorts at sbcglobal.net
Wed Oct 10 13:07:09 UTC 2012

>From USA Today, October 8, 2012.

Soda industry: Vending machines will show calories

Coca-Cola announced Monday that it will roll out a new soda vending
machine.(Photo: Coca-Cola via AP)

Story Highlights:
Machine buttons to have calorie counts.
Messages will remind about low-cal options.
Such machines set to launch in 2013.

12:45PM EST October 8. 2012 - NEW YORK (AP) - 
As criticism over sugary sodas intensifies, Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper are
rolling out new vending machines that will put calorie counts right at your

The counts will be on the buttons of the machines, which will also feature
small posted messages reminding the thirsty that they can choose a
low-calorie drink. The vending machines will launch in Chicago and San
Antonio municipal buildings in 2013 before appearing nationally.

The move comes ahead of a new regulation that would require restaurant
chains and vending machines to post calorie information as early as next
year, although the timetable and specifics for complying with that
requirement are still being worked out.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, for example has proposed a
less-stringent amendment that would allow vending machines to post the
information on a poster on the side of the machine, notes Mike Jacobson,
executive director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which
advocates for food safety and nutrition.

The industry's announcement Monday shows posting calories right on machines
is perfectly feasible, he said.

"This would be an important step forward," Jacobson said. "Currently, people
don't think about calories when they go up to a vending machine. Having the
calories right on the button will help them make choices."

The American Beverage Association, which represents Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo
Inc. and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc., said the machines will increase the
availability of lower-calorie drinks and remind customers to consider
alternatives with messages such as "Try a Low-Calorie Beverage."

"We have market research that says consumers really like this - they like
choice, they like the ability to make choices," said Susan Neely, president
of the American Beverage Association.

But she said the group has not done any research on whether providing such
information impacts the choices people actually end up making. Notably, the
ABA has aggressively fought New York City's ban on the sale of large sugary
drinks, as well as measures in other municipalities that would tax sodas.

A mock-up of the new machine provided by Coca-Cola showed 20-ounce bottles
of its flagship drink and Sprite inside vending machines, with small labels
on the glass stating "240 calories."

The move comes as the soda industry has come under increasing fire for
fueling rising obesity rates. Last month, New York City approved a
first-in-the-nation plan to prohibit the sale of sugary drinks over 16
ounces in the city's restaurants, movie theaters and stadiums. The beverage
industry aggressively fought the measure, saying it takes away customer

This November, voters in Richmond, Calif., will also decide whether to
approve a penny-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks.

Soft drink makers are also dealing with shifting consumer habits. Soda
consumption per person has been declining in the U.S. since 1998, according
to the Beverage Digest. The decline is partly the result of the growing
number of drink options, such as flavored waters, bottled teas and sports

As a result, Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper are focusing on developing more diet
drinks, as well as expanding into other types of drinks to reduce their
reliance on sodas.

Coca-Cola, based in Atlanta, notes that it already provides calorie
information on the front of its drinks rather than just on the nutrition
panel on the back.

The decision to post calorie information follows the Supreme Court's
decision this summer to uphold President Obama's health care overhaul, which
includes a regulation that would require restaurant chains and with more
than 20 locations and vending machines to post calorie information. Last
month, McDonald's Corp. began posting calorie information on its menus

There is no timetable for when all vending machines will be converted. Coke,
Pepsi and Dr Pepper sometimes work with third-party vending machine
operators; Neely said the companies will work with in those cases to convert

Vending machines account for about 13% of sales volume, a figure that has
remained relatively unchanged in recent years, according to Beverage Digest.

Although other factors such as a lack of physical activity and overeating
also contribute, soda consumption is often identified for playing a role in
rising obesity rates.

Last month, the New England Journal of Medicine published a decades-long
study of more than 33,000 Americans that showed sugary beverages interact
with genes that affect weight, meaning they are especially harmful to people
who are hereditarily predisposed to weight gain.

Two other major experiments have found that giving children and teens
calorie-free alternatives to the sugary drinks they usually consume leads to
less weight gain.

Taken together, scientists say the results strongly suggest that sugary
drinks cause people to pack on the pounds.

Bonnie Sashin, who works as a communications director for a non-profit in
Brookline, Mass., says she stays away from sugary drinks and "empty
calories," limiting herself to a can of Diet Dr Pepper or Diet Coke about
twice a month. But she thought the move to display calorie information on
vending machines was a step in the right direction.

"I think it's a positive trend," Sashin said. "Anything that helps us be
more educated about calories is a good thing."


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