Obesity prevention efforts shine at Sunny Delight

by Eric Schroeder
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CINCINNATI — A year after highlighting significant changes made in its supply chain and the impact on sustainability, the Sunny Delight Beverages Co. is sharpening its focus on calorie reductions, calorie labeling, school beverage guidelines and wellness programs, Billy Cyr, president and chief executive officer, said in the company’s fifth annual Sustainability Report released July 9.

During 2012, Sunny Delight completed a $85 million reinvention project that enabled the company to realize efficiency, sustainability and economic benefits. But it was the company’s efforts in the area of obesity that Mr. Cyr described in detail in the opening pages of the report.

Mr. Cyr said Sunny Delight has reduced the calories in its products by 48% since 2007, ahead of its goal of 46% by 2015. Additionally, since 2007 the company has lowered the sugar content in more than 99% of beverages containing added sugar, he said.

“Further improvements will require new breakthroughs in low calorie sweetener taste profiles and the continued evolution of the American palate toward less sweet products — something that we believe is under way and which we are supporting,” he said.

Mr. Cyr described Sunny Delight as a pioneer in the area of front-of-pack calorie labeling through its early adoption of Facts Up Front labeling, and in 2012 completed implementation across its entire product line.

“We believe this gives consumers the most important information in an easily recognized format so that they can make good decisions for themselves and their families,” he said.

Sunny Delight also has signed on to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation School Beverage Guidelines, which were developed in coordination with the American Beverage Association to ensure that products offered in schools are consistent with strong nutrition guidelines. As part of its participation in the Alliance, Sunny Delight has reformulated several of its products to improve their healthfulness before selling them to schools, Mr. Cyr said.

The company also has extended its focus on obesity prevention to include its employees. Mr. Cyr said Sunny Delight offers various wellness programs designed to encourage weight reduction and other health improvements.

“Aside from these efforts, we continue to study the best practices in the area of obesity and expect to make additional improvements in our product offerings and business practices,” Mr. Cyr said. “We want to be recognized as a company that is working to solve this problem rather than contributing to it. We will work in collaboration with our industry when our combined efforts can make the biggest difference, and we will work independently when we believe that we can move faster or gain competitive advantage from a solo effort.

We will quickly follow the good ideas of our competitors and others in the industry, and we will seek the best ideas no matter where they originate. As a mid-sized company, we believe we have a unique ability to simultaneously move quickly like a small company, but to also have a big impact like a large company.

“Additionally, our efforts in the area of obesity involve our opposition to a patchwork of regulations and legislation aimed at arbitrarily restricting the sale and consumption of sweetened beverages. Instead, we will continue to support, and collaboratively help bring about, more meaningful and longer lasting solutions to our nation’s obesity issue. We are proud of the leadership we have demonstrated with Facts-Up Front labeling, the School Beverage Guidelines, and many other local and national programs focused on positive solutions. We also are encouraged by early data indicating that some of these efforts are having a positive impact in some pockets of society. While it will take a long-term, concerted effort by all parties with a stake in this issue, we are optimistic that the problem will be solved and America will again become a very healthy country.”

Sunny Delight Beverages Co. is a producer of juice-based beverages in North America and Western Europe. Brands within its portfolio include SunnyD, FruitSimple, Fruit2O, Veryfine, Bossa Nova and Crystal Light.

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