We are talking about a diet cola drink that has been on the US market since 1964 and was originally called Pepsi Light, a name that changed to Pepsi Diet the year after its launch (although that brand is still used in many countries, including ours) .
PepsiCo says it will offer a "classic" version of Diet Pepsi made with aspartame in September, in 12-ounce cans, 2-liter bottles and 20-ounce bottles. The move is meant to appease fans who don't like the taste of the reformulated drink, which is made with another artificial sweetener, sucralose.
But the company explains that Diet Pepsi made with sucralose, commonly known by the name Splenda, will continue to be its main diet soda offering. To differentiate them, these cans will be silver, while the "classic" Pepsi Diet with aspartame will have a light blue color.
Another measure that has been taken with a view to recovering the market is that soon the Pepsi MAX brand will be reintroduced as Pepsi Zero Sugar in the US market; but while the product will change the image by highlighting its lack of sugar, it will still contain the conflicting aspartame.
"Consumers demand variety in the field of diet cola drinks, so what we have done is update our line to provide three options that meet different needs and taste preferences," was the justification given by a Pepsi representative through a press release.
Back off by sales
Back in the 80's the problems with respect to sweeteners began, since Pepsi Diet in its original formula used saccharin, a well-known derivative of petroleum; the controversies were so great that they forced the firm to switch to aspartame (Nutra Sweet) and acesulfame K.
In 2012 the problems returned, this time with aspartame (under suspicion of causing cancers and brain tumors) and the company began to consider another change, which took effect in August of last year when PepsiCo eliminated aspartame from Diet Pepsi, with the explanation that such change was due to requests, complaints and suggestions made by customers.
PepsiCo executives blame this measure, and people's concerns about ingredients and taste, the huge drop in sales of diet sodas, and while the substitution of the sweetener in the Pepsi Diet cannot be considered the sole culprit. for the decline in sales, for the company, the plan decidedly seems to have failed.
Aspartame has been linked to cancer in laboratory mice, but it is approved for use, and the US Food and Drug Administration says more than 100 studies support its use. Several years ago, Coca-Cola Co. announced in various media that they defend the safety of the sweetener, although this remains in question.
PepsiCo's decision to re-offer Diet Pepsi with aspartame was first reported in the publication Beverage Digest. Publishing editor Duane Stanford said Pepsi made "a big gamble" when it reformulated the drink, as befits a large brand, though looking at the results, it appears that it ultimately didn't work out as intended.
"The strategy based on a change of the sweetener that PepsiCo is currently proposing is intended to please older consumers who are used to the old formula, it is not for the younger ones who want to avoid aspartame or for those who regardless of the contents, they want bolder diet glues with functional attributes, "wrote Stanford.
Although Pepsi has a lot of big brands through the different divisions of the company, such as Frito-Lay and Quaker Foods, the success of diet drinks is seen as critical. Amid a generally struggling soft drink industry in the US, Diet Pepsi is far behind.
At the level of said market, it is the No. 7 brand in the ranking of diet drinks but the reduction in sales volume has been very marked in the first quarter of this year (reaching 10.6%), reported Beverage Digest, much worse than the drop in 5.7% Diet Coke and 4.4% Mountain Dew Diet.