Is PepsiCo Breaking its Promise?

Maybe keeping a promise is the real ‘Pepsi challenge.’

A few months ago, I blogged (on my Business Ethics Blog) about a decision by PepsiCo to voluntarily stop selling sugary drinks in schools by 2012. Now there seems to be evidence that they’ve violated that decision.

Here’s PepsiCo’s press release (from March 2010). It says, in part:

PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP) announced today it is voluntarily adopting a new global policy to stop sales of full-sugar soft drinks to primary and secondary schools by 2012. The industry-leading policy establishes for the first time a consistent global approach to the sale of beverages to schools by a major beverage company.

The policy applies in all countries outside the United States, and is generally consistent with the company’s existing U.S. policy, which remains unchanged.

Now, check out this item, from the Richmond, Indiana news source Pal-Item.com: High school signs contract with Pepsi, which begins:

Union County High School has signed a new five-year contract with Pepsi, ending its exclusive contract to sell only Coke products in the building.

Certainly doesn’t look good. The PepsiCo press release doesn’t give details of its US policy (anyone know where to find it?) But the overall impression is that PepsiCo is committed to not selling sugary drinks to kids at school.

Now the details of the news story are vague. It doesn’t say what kinds of PepsiCo products will be sold under the new contract. Maybe only non-sugary drinks will be sold. But that seems pretty unlikely: surely that fact would be pretty newsworthy.

(Hat tip to Marion Nestle, on Twitter, who attributes the find to Michelle Simon.)

[Note: this blog entry was altered slightly, about 5 minutes after publication, to clarify the nature of the apparent conflict.]

Update!
Here’s an important update from Michele Simon, with a statement from PepsiCo.

About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
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One Response to Is PepsiCo Breaking its Promise?

  1. DeLene says:

    Does sound suspicious, (and I doubt we’d have seen this on the Food Frontiers blog at ScienceBlogs.com), but I think before anything can really be said about this two things need to be spelled out in black and white: a.) the US policy, and b.) exactly which products are included in the contract.

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