Opinion: Beverage choices good for Michigan
Americans enjoy having choices, but we also expect to have the information necessary to make the best choices for our families. At the Michigan Soft Drink Association, we believe that Michiganders can make smart and balanced nutrition decisions when armed with the best information. We want to help reduce the calories and sugar people consume from beverages, which is why America's beverage companies—including The Coca-Cola Company, Keurig Dr Pepper and PepsiCo—have put aside their competitive differences to find solutions that work.
While some might seek to restrict the available beverage options, we know there is a better way to encourage responsible consumption habits—providing consumers with options and information. We are placing calorie awareness information on three million fountain machines, coolers, and vending machines nationwide, and changing shelf layouts in stores to nudge consumers towards lower-calories options. We also voluntarily changed our packaging to include easy-to-understand calorie labels on the front of every bottle, can and pack through the Clear on Calories initiative.
The evidence shows our efforts are working. Americans have reduced their consumption of sugar from carbonated soft drinks by more than 33 percent since 2000, in part due to the ever-expanding choices of beverages available for purchase. Fifty percent of all non-alcoholic beverages purchased today have no sugar and 60 percent of new brands and flavors hitting the market are low- or no-calorie drinks and we’ve introduced a greater variety of portion sizes to support Americans efforts to find balance.
We are not slowing our efforts. Our companies have made an unprecedented nationwide commitment to help reduce the calories and sugar people consume from beverages by 20 percent by 2025. We call it our Balance Calories Initiative. This is a bold commitment and we’re undertaking a whole host of strategies to crack the code. We’re using our strengths in marketing, innovation and distribution in this endeavor, with real actions taking place in the marketplace, in products, in ads and promotions to persuade people to try lower-calorie options.
As Michigan's leading beverage companies, we want our hometowns and our neighbors to be vibrant and healthy. We’re proud of the jobs we bring to Michigan and the products we make. In fact, 99 percent of the soft drinks consumed in Michigan are also made here.
We'll continue listening to our consumers and working to provide expanded access to information and choices on the grocery shelf.
Derek Bajema is president and CEO of Michigan Soft Drink Association.