‘Big Soda’ 5 for 5 In California Regulatory Battle
California lawmakers have shelved or rejected all five bills introduced this year aimed at imposing regulations on the sale of sugary beverages, granting “Big Soda” a perfect record in fighting statewide attempts to reduce consumption, the Los Angeles Times reported last week.
Among the defeated proposals were bills which would have banned the sale of “Big Gulp” drinks in unsealed containers larger than 16 oz, required health warning labels on sugary drinks, and new statewide soda taxes.
The American Beverage Association is estimated to have spent $914,000 on lobbying in 2018, up from $380,000 in 2017. The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo directly contributed a combined $283,000 to lobbying efforts in the last 12 months.
“We will continue to work with the legislature and the administration on effective ways to address their budgetary and public health concerns, while ensuring that food and beverages remain affordable and accessible for all Californians,” said Steve Maviglio, spokesman for the American Beverage Association.
Big Soda Also Winning The War Against Bottle Bills
The beverage lobby’s regulatory victories aren’t just contained to the Golden State. The New York Times reported last week that the industry has been leading the charge nationwide against container deposit laws intended to encourage recycling.
This year at least eight states have proposed such laws, also called bottle bills, but nearly all have either “been rejected or failed to gain traction,” according to the Times, in large part due to industry lobbying.
The efforts to defeat bottle bills comes at a time when the industry has actively encourage recycling, with companies such as Coke and Pepsi announcing plans to utilize recycled materials in their packaging and supporting nonprofit foundations such as Keep America Beautiful.
Dairy Groups Offer High Schoolers Lattes To Boost Milk Sales
As plant-based milks continue to gain market share over traditional dairy products, dairy groups are looking to reel in teenagers through pop up coffee bars in high schools across the country.
The Associated Press reported last week that dairy groups are providing cash grants and materials to high schools in several states, including North Dakota and Florida, to open coffee bars providing students with dairy-based lattes. In the past year, industry group Florida Dairy Farmers paid for coffee carts in 21 high schools, while in the Southwest, Texas-based Dairy Max gave grants to seven schools to start coffee programs.
Because of national laws regulating fat content and coffee consumption for public school students, drinks sold at these coffee bars can be no larger than 12 ounces and lattes must be made with fat-free or 1% milk.
However, as the Associated Press reported, the plan does have one snag: Some Midwest schools are now offering students almond milk for 40 cents extra.
LaCroix Now “Legal” in Massachusetts
Sparkling water brand LaCroix has always had tough competition in Massachusetts, with locally-based brands such as Polar and Spindrift acting as many Bay Staters hometown favorites. But if that wasn’t enough, last month Consumer Reports found that LaCroix had, in fact, been selling in the commonwealth without a permit.
Massachusetts state law requires all bottled water and carbonated beverage brands to submit water quality tests to the Department of Public Health. However, LaCroix’s parent company National Beverage Corp. never submitted the paperwork necessary to receive approval, making all distribution of the drink illicit.
According to Eater Boston, National Beverage Corp. announced on June 26 that it has secured the proper permitting and all sales are now completely in compliance.
PBR Releases Hard Coffee
Coming on the heels of several new innovations, including a whiskey and a higher ABV beer, Pabst Blue Ribbon has launched a new product, Hard Coffee. The line is being piloted in five states — Florida, Georgia, Maine, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
According to Thrillist, Hard Coffee features 5% ABV per 11 oz can and contains 30 mg of caffeine.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the five test states were chosen by the company because they are “popular coffee markets.”
“Hard Coffee is an opportunity for us to pioneer a delicious and fun new drink, and give America something unique,” Pabst brand manager John Newhouse said. “We hope everyone loves it as much as we do.”