Coca-Cola and PepsiCo plan to market new, vitamin-enhanced sodas in the coming months – Diet Coke Plus and Tava, respectively. The new beverages will be promoted as “sparkling beverages” rather than soda or soft drinks, which have been in the headlines for their link to obesity.
Diet Coke Plus, which will hit the market in April, will contain niacin, vitamins B6 and B12, magnesium and zinc. The new beverage will cost the same as Diet Coke. Tava, which will be available this fall, will be lightly carbonated and contain vitamins B3, B6 and E, as well as chromium. PepsiCo has not determined a price for the new product yet.
In 2005, the $68 billion soda industry in the United States experienced a decrease in sales for the first time in recent history. Even the diet soda industry experienced a decline in sales. Consumers are increasingly choosing bottled water, sparkling juices and green teas over sodas.
This is not the first time vitamin-enhanced soda has been marketed. In 2004, Cadbury Schweppes released 7Up Plus, a low-calorie soda fortified with vitamins and minerals. In 2006, Cadbury also changed the label of its regular 7Up soda to “100 percent natural.” However, after a nutrition group complained that a product made with high-fructose corn syrup should not be considered natural, Cadbury was forced to change the label to “100 percent natural flavor.”
There is debate over the healthfulness of these new sodas. While they contain vitamins and no sugar, they are made with artificial sweeteners. According to a survey conducted by Morgan Stanley, only 10% of consumers interviewed in 2006 considered diet colas a healthy choice, compared with 14% in 2003. Also, 30 percent of consumers who were interviewed last year said they were reluctant to drink beverages with artificial sweeteners, an increase from 21 percent in 2004.
The efforts to increase beverage sales are especially important to Coca-Cola, since soft drinks and energy drinks account for 81 percent of the company’s revenue worldwide. PepsiCo, on the other hand, has entered other food and beverage markets, including Frito-Lay, Gatorade and Quaker Oats. Soft drinks account for 31 percent of PepsiCo’s revenue in North America, and Pepsi-Cola is the company's largest brand worldwide.