Also over the holidays, Pepsi announced the latest innovation in kids products: Tropolis pouches of squeezable fruit from its Tropicana brand.
I learned about Tropolis from a reporter at the Wall Street Journal, Valerie Bauerlein, who forwarded Pepsis press release:
Each fun-flavored 3.17 fl oz (90g) pouch provides a smooth blend of real squeezable fruit, is a good source of fiber, and offers 100 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C all for less than 100 calories.
Tropicana Tropolis is made with no added sugars, artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup; and no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.
Fun-flavored is a euphemism for sugar. The press release explains whats not in the product. So, what does it contain? It took some doing to find out, but it arrived eventually along with some further background information from Pepsi:
The issue is kids aren't getting enough fruit, so Tropicana Tropolis is trying to help solve that problem in a fun, nutritious way... Studies show that families are not getting enough fruit and vegetables in their diets, and the health experts we talked to (registered dietitians and pediatricians) when developing Tropolis also raised this issue.
As you might imagine, I was not one of the experts they talked to. Here are the ingredients:
Grape World: Apple puree, filtered water, banana puree concentrate, fibersol-2 fiber (maltodextrin), grape juice concentrate, apple juice concentrate, lemon juice concentrate, natural flavor and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).
Cherry World: Apple puree, filtered water, banana puree concentrate, fibersol-2 fiber (maltodextrin), apple juice concentrate, cherry juice concentrate, lemon juice concentrate, natural flavor and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).
Apple World: Apple puree, filtered water, banana puree concentrate, fibersol-2 fiber (maltodextrin), apple juice concentrate, lemon juice concentrate, natural flavor and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).
Translation: Juice concentrates is another euphemism for sugar. You dont believe me? See the list of sugar euphemisms in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines (Table 14).
My translation: this is watery apple and banana sauce, artificially thickened, sweetened with fruit sugars, flavored with additives, and with added vitamin C.
As Valerie Bauerlein's Wall Street Journal account explains, this product is about expanding Pepsi's profits in the "better-for-you" category as captured in a quotation that is sure to become a classic.
Ms. Nooyi [Pepsi's CEO] has said she wants to build the nutrition business to $30 billion from $10 billion by 2020... We see the emerging opportunity to snackify beverages and drinkify snacks as the next frontier in food and beverage convenience, Ms. Nooyi said.
I'm also quoted in her article (I did the interview while stranded in Miami trying to get back to snowbound New York):
Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University, said that the fruit concentrates are simply sugar. They start out with real food, so lets give them credit for applesauce and mashed-up bananas, but the rest of it is sugar, she said. Kids would be better off eating an apple or a banana.
PepsiCo said Tropolis should get kids to eat more fruit, which is whats most important.
Tropolis raises my favorite food philosophy question: Is a "better-for-you" product necessarily a good choice? Is this a good way to get kids to eat more fruit?
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