Pepsi plans to put the real thing into some colas this summer: Sugar.
The soda giant -- whose colas, like much of the industry, have been hit by a continuing sales decline -- plans to roll out three types of Pepsi-Cola sweetened with real sugar and not with high fructose corn syrup, reports Beverage Digest, the industry trade publication.
Pepsi confirmed the planned roll-out to USA TODAY, but did not comment further.
The three offerings: "Pepsi Made With Real Sugar," "Pepsi Vanilla Made With Real Sugar," and "Pepsi Wild Cherry Made With Real Sugar," says Sicher.
The strategic move by Pepsi comes at a time the $76 billion carbonated soft drink industry is on the decline. The big soft drink makers are eager to devise new products and marketing moves that spark consumer interest. At the same time, some consumers are increasingly showing concern over the use of high fructose corn syrup as well as artificial sweeteners in soft drinks.
Some niche soda makers stake their reputations on the sweeteners. Jones Soda, for example, has used only pure cane sugar since the brand was founded in 1995. More recently, Zevia jumped into the zero-calorie arena using stevia, a plant-based sweetener that it combines with monk juice. And it's now the official diet soda of the Oakland A's.
At issue: Is sugar any better -- or worse -- than high fructose corn syrup?
That, of course, depends on who you ask.
"There are some consumers who seem to gravitate to "sugar," though in reality high fructose corn syrup is also an excellent sweetener," says Sicher.
But one consumer health activist says the real problem with soft drinks isn't just sugar vs. high fructose corn syrup, but all of the other ingredients in the can.
"Consumers shouldn't only be worried about high fructose corn syrup, they need to investigate the entire label," says Vani Hari, a consumer activist and creator of the FoodBabe.com blog. "For example, most people don't know that consuming the ingredient "caramel coloring" in Pepsi could be worse for them than the high fructose corn syrup."
Replacing high fructose corn syrup with another type of sugar will have little effect on obesity and diabetes, says Hari. "It's like replacing a cigarette with a cigar."