Just the 'Sweet Facts'

Image courtesy of Panera
 
Panera Bread has witnessed an 8 percent shift toward increased consumption of medium and lightly sweetened beverages over fountain soda since it began declaring added sugar and calories in fountain beverages on in-cafe signage in March, when the bakery cafe chain introduced new craft beverages.

To solidify its efforts, Panera Bread recently introduced a new fountain beverage cup in its restaurants that lists the calories and added sugars in its six new craft beverages. Ranging from 0 calories to 160 calories per serving, the new beverage offerings include passion papaya green tea, prickly pear hibiscus fresca, agave lemonade, blood orange lemonade, iced black tea, and plum ginger hibiscus tea. The new cup is currently available in eight markets and is slated for a nationwide roll-out.

Panera Bread’s “sweet facts” cup is the company’s answer to national survey data that revealed 99 percent of Americans do not know the amount of added sugar in a 20-ounce serving of standard cola.

Sara Burnett, director of wellness for Panera Bread, says the company wants to allow guests to make informed choices relative to beverages. “Guests have the right to know they could be drinking 17 teaspoons of added sugar per 20 ounces depending on the beverage choice they make. That’s more than the daily USDA guidelines,” Burnett says. “We want to give guests better information and more options.”

The study, which was commissioned by Panera Bread, reveals that 83 percent of Americans underestimate the amount of sugar in regular cola.

“We believe it’s up to companies to take the lead on transparency, not wait for legislation,” says Ron Shaich, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Panera Bread. “Earlier this year we became the first national restaurant company to post both calories and added sugar at the point of pour, but we quickly saw that we could — and should — do more. With the combination of more information and better options available, we’re seeing our guests begin to trade from fountain soft drinks to our new clean beverages.”

The clean label trend continues to build momentum. As an example, Nielsen found that beverages that are free from artificial sweeteners are outperforming calorie-free beverages with antioxidants.

Nearly 4 in 10 US consumers say they would switch from the food and beverage brands they currently buy to others that provide clearer, more accurate product information, according to Nielsen research.

More than two-thirds are willing to pay more for food and beverage products that don’t contain ingredients perceived as bad for them, and roughly half say the exclusion of undesirable ingredients is more important than the inclusion of beneficial ingredients.