Coke & Pepsi Vending Machines Will Get Calorie Counts, Push Low-Calorie Drinks

Even though soda cans and bottles now feature large, clear calorie counts, the makers of the biggest brands of fizzy drinks have decided to go ahead and put calorie information on some of their vending machines starting in 2013.

Unlike the on-packaging calorie labels, which are required by the FDA, Coca-Cola and other companies have decided on their own to put the info on these vending machines as part of the industry’s effort to promote lower-calorie alternatives to the sugary drinks that have become the target of some public health advocates who claim a direct correlation between soft drinks and the obesity epidemic.

In addition to the calorie info, the vending machines will have messaging like “Calories Count — Try a Low-Calorie Beverage.”

While the folks at Big Soda have taken a lot of heat in recent years, including the recent decision in New York City to ban the sale of large, full-calorie sodas at restaurants, delis and other businesses, they have been rolling out their own campaign aimed at raising the profile of diet drinks and the new generation of mid-calorie sodas.

“It’s not about telling people what to drink,” Steve Cahillane, head of Coca-Cola Refreshments, tells Beverage Digest. “People love our brands and they’re also telling us they want more choices and easy to understand calorie and nutrition information. We’ve always been able to tap into what matters to people, and that drives our marketing. This effort is no different. Anything we can do to make it easier for folks to choose what’s right for them is ultimately right for us.”

The vending machines with the calorie counts will first show up in municipal buildings in Chicago and San Antonio in 2013, with a nationwide rollout planned afterward.

Vending machines to display calorie counts in 2013 [AJC.com]