Beverage industry touts progress on calorie labeling and reduction

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Obesity

Sunny Delight has said it will calorie reduction targets across its product portfolio four years ahead of schedule, in line with an industry initiative backing Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign.

Correction: This article has been altered from a previous version, which claimed that Sunny Delight had already reached its calorie reduction target. The company has since issued a correction notice.

The Sunny Delight Beverages Company is one of several beverage companies that has pledged to cut calories in its products. It set a calorie reduction target of 46 percent in 2007 – which it intended to achieve by 2015 – but it now claims it will reach that target by the end of the year, reformulating its products to have an average of 50 calories per eight-ounce serving, down from an average of 92 calories four years ago.

In addition, the company says it has overhauled product labels since Michelle Obama launched her Let’s Move campaign a year ago, to fit with the American Beverage Association’s (ABA) voluntary ‘Clear on Calories’ initiative, which was launched in support of that campaign.

The ABA has said it expects all of its members’ beverage brands to carry clear front-of-pack calorie labeling by 2012.

President and CEO of the American Beverage Association Susan Neely said: "The new labels put calorie information at the fingertips of consumers at every point of purchase so they can choose the beverage that is right for them and their families. By putting the calories on the front of beverages, we're making it easier for consumers to make informed choices.”

Participating companies in the ‘Clear on Calories’ initiative include the Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Nestlé Waters North America, Cott Beverages and Honest Tea, as well as Sunny Delight Beverages.

Sunny Delight president and CEO Billy Cyr said: "Sunny Delight is proud of its commitment to nutrition…This is another example of how we're constantly improving our products for our loyal customers."

Under the ABA’s calorie labeling scheme, total calories will be displayed on the front of all packaged beverages up to 20 fluid ounces, using a 12 fluid ounce serving size for multi-serve packages. One hundred percent juices and juice drinks will continue to use an 8 fluid ounce serving size.

The First Lady’s campaign was launched a year ago today (February 9) with the stated aim of ending American childhood obesity within a generation.

Childhood obesity is at record levels, with 32 percent of US children and adolescents overweight or obese, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This falls far short of an earlier government pledge to shrink the number of overweight children to five percent by 2010. And the beverage industry has been repeatedly put forward as a target for blame, with some pointing to studies that estimate that beverages contribute 10 to 15 percent of calories consumed by American children and adolescents.

However, the beverage industry quickly came forward united in its support for Mrs. Obama’s initiative, announcing a raft of voluntary steps toward making calorie information clearer for consumers.

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