PURCHASE, N.Y. — Less than a year after launching Diet Pepsi without aspartame, PepsiCo, Inc. has announced plans to bring back the original formula this fall. The move comes after sales of the company’s diet soda fell nearly 11% in the first quarter.
PepsiCo said it will continue to sell aspartame-free Diet Pepsi, which is sweetened with sucralose and acesulfame potassium. But it also will introduce Diet Pepsi Classic Sweetener Blend, featuring the previous formulation with aspartame.
|Indra Nooyi, chairman and c.e.o. of PepsiCo|
“You know what’s interesting? If you go and poll consumers today and read all the social media reports, there’s still trepidation about aspartame,” said Indra Nooyi, chairman and chief executive officer of PepsiCo, during a July 7 earnings call with financial analysts. “There’s no scientific reason for that, but people are somehow worried about aspartame, and when we launched Diet Pepsi aspartame-free, it’s because there was a huge consumer need for that product.”
PepsiCo first announced the sweetener swap last spring, citing consumer demand and “extensive research and testing” with diet cola drinkers in the United States.
“What we did not anticipate is that there’s a group of consumers that absolutely loved the original Diet Pepsi and in the cola category in particular, because it’s been optimized over years, people get incredibly fastidious about their products and don't want to have any changes,” Ms. Nooyi said.
That’s why the company decided to keep both formulas on the shelves.“I’ll tell you when we announced that we were bringing back the old Diet Pepsi, the few people that thought aspartame-free was going away wrote me some pretty tough emails,” Ms. Nooyi said. “So there is a very loyal group that is thrilled that we have an aspartame-free following. So we brought back the original Diet Pepsi in addition to keeping the aspartame-free product so we could serve all consumers the products that they love. I think that’s going to be a net positive for us.”