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November 22, 2016

Alliance for a Healthier Generation and American Beverage Association Issue First Progress Report on Reducing Beverage Calories

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Nov. 22, 2016 — The Alliance for a Healthier Generation and America’s beverage companies today issued the first annual independent evaluation of the Balance Calories Initiative, a landmark effort to decrease beverage calories in the American diet. The Balance Calories Report on 2015 Progress lays out the ambitious work that beverage companies have undertaken to build a foundation of strategies in the marketplace that drive changes in consumer purchases and consumption..

Prepared by Keybridge LLC, this report describes the product innovations, marketing initiatives and distribution strategies being implemented nationally by The Coca-Cola Company, Dr Pepper Snapple Group and PepsiCo to reach the goal of reducing beverage calories consumed per person nationally by 20 percent by 2025. The report estimates changes in national beverage consumption from 2014 to 2015, and examines the challenges facing the industry as it seeks to have consumers reduce their calories from beverages.

Keybridge estimates that beverage calories per person decreased by 0.2 percent from 2014 to 2015. Two trends combined to bring about this result. There was a 2.3 percent decrease in calories per 8-ounce serving, but that decrease was mostly offset by a 2.2 percent increase in total beverage consumption. Declines in the consumption of low- and no-calorie soft drinks also had an impact.

“Driving change of this magnitude takes time,” said Dr. Howell Wechsler, CEO of the Alliance. “We are pleased to see that the beverage industry has begun to implement and learn from strategies that can reach the goal of a 20 percent reduction in Americans’ beverage calories.”

The report describes strategies implemented by the beverage companies to drive consumer behavior toward consumption of lower calorie beverages, including the following:

  • Introductions of no-, low- and mid-calorie beverage innovations outpaced introductions of full-calorie beverages. Beverage companies introduced 26 low- and no-calorie beverages and 17 mid-calorie beverages – which represent more than 60 percent of all new brands and flavors introduced;
  • Full-calorie beverages were reformulated to contain fewer calories per ounce. Five beverages had their average calories reduced from 106 to 68 calories per 8-ounce serving, a 36 percent decrease;
  • New in-store marketing techniques are being implemented in beverage aisles. Companies are working with retailers to change shelf layouts to attract consumer attention toward reduced-calorie options and smaller package sizes.

Keybridge’s analysis explored the challenges in trying to change consumer behavior. They include:

  • Consumption of low- and no-calorie carbonated soft drinks declined sharply by 5.9 percent, a critical headwind to overall calorie reductions;
  • While water consumption increased 7.1 percent, 87 percent of that growth was incremental, meaning it was not the result of consumers shifting from other beverages to water but due to people drinking more beverages altogether;
  • The remaining 13 percent growth in water appeared to have come more from consumers of low- and no-calorie soft drinks rather than from consumers of full-calorie soft drinks containing sugar, lessening the calorie reduction effect.

“America’s beverage companies are committed to cracking the code on how each company can heighten consumer interest in lower calories, small portion sizes and less sugar,” said Susan Neely, president and CEO of the American Beverage Association. “The innovative strategies we are ramping up in the marketplace will be what gets us to our goal.”

The Balance Calories Initiative National Report on 2015 Progress will be complemented in the coming months with a report on the Balance Calories Communities Initiative, which aims to achieve a 20 percent per person reduction in beverage calories in eight to 10 select communities where the challenge to meet the goal is believed to be greatest. What is learned in these communities will guide calorie reduction efforts nationwide.

Access to the report is available on the American Beverage Association website at www.ameribev.org and the Alliance website at www.healthiergeneration.org.

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About the Alliance for a Healthier Generation
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation, empowers kids to develop lifelong, healthy habits, by ensuring the environments that surround them provide and promote good health. Get involved at HealthierGeneration.org.  

About the American Beverage Association
The American Beverage Association is the national trade organization representing the broad spectrum of companies that manufacture and distribute non-alcoholic beverages in the United States, including regular and diet soft drinks, bottled waters and water beverages, ready-to-drink teas, sports drinks, energy drinks, 100 percent juices and juice drinks.  ABA and its member companies have a longstanding commitment to being part of the solution to obesity. For more information, please visit www.deliveringchoices.org and www.ameribev.org.