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Big Soda Vows to Fight Bloomberg's NYC Big Soda Ban

Posted by Dale Buss on September 13, 2012 06:06 PM

To no one's surprise, the New York City Board of Health approved on Thursday a ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, street cars and movie theaters. It was the first restriction of its kind and scale in the country.

It also surprised no one that Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the spiritual father and political force behind the ban, quickly hailed the enactment of his brainchild. "NYC's sugary drink policy is the single biggest step any gov't has taken to curb obesity," he stated. "It will help save lives." The Mayor's Office also released statements of support, along with the news that the new Barclays Center will comply.

The measure will take effect in six months unless the American soft-drink industry manages to get some judge to overturn it. Of course, there's always the possibility that popular sentiment could turn heavily against the ban and result in political pressure that would cause its reversal. But no one is betting on that.

"This is not the end," Eliot Hoff, a spokesman for New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, an industry-financed group opposed to the ban, commented in a statement to the New York Times. "We are exploring legal options, and all other avenues available to us." The coalition's chairwoman, Liz Berman, also released a video statement reiterating that stance.Continue reading...

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Dew Process: PepsiCo Stunt Takes a Pop at Bloomberg's NYC Soda Ban

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 13, 2012 10:55 AM

In the 1920s and early ‘30s of New York, as Prohibition ruled the land, folks didn’t have to go without a drink. There were speakeasies aplenty back on those days that would be happy to quench your thirst as long as you didn’t mind needing to remember the password, being ready to dump your liquor at the drop of a hat, and having a few extra bucks to help pay off any police that happened by the place.

The folks at Mountain Dew seem to think that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is about to return the Big Apple to those long-gone days if his suggested bill — which could be passed today — winds up restricting consumers from buying sodas that are bigger than 16 ounces goes through. Some call it a gamble; Bloomberg says he’s looking out for the long-term health of his city’s dwellers and visitors.

The whole thing has got Mountain Dew execs and indeed the entire beverage industry agitated — and not because of the caffeine in their beverages, either. The PepsiCo-owned soda brand has teamed up with "cultural production" studio New York Art Department to plaster ads around New York City that say “Prohibition” and feature a 17 ounce, vintage can of Mountain Dew (long before it was abbreviated to Mtn. Dew). To drive the message home, a smaller message quips: “Also available in legal sizes!” 

On a more serious note, New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, an industry coalition backed by the American Beverage Association, says more than 250,000 New Yorkers have signed a petition. While small business and industry lobbying has failed to sway New York City’s Board of Health, which appears poised to pass the ban on Big Soda (update: it passed), you can be sure Bloomberg's public health watchdog is unhappy with another move Mountain Dew has made as well.Continue reading...

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McDonald's Rolls Out Calorie Counts on US Menus

Posted by Dale Buss on September 12, 2012 05:17 PM

McDonald's continues to look less and less like a food-police "Most Wanted" corporation with a rap sheet to match its notoriety. Instead, the global fast-food leader keeps adding to its shift toward better-for-you fare and toward making healthier food not only accessible to its customers but palatable as well — even including the health of its own employees.

Today, McDonald's USA announced a number of nutrition initiatives, including the news it's adding calorie counts on restaurant and drive-through menus nationwide starting Monday and introducing menu items next year in line with the latest obesity-targeting federal dietary guidelines.

"We recognize customers want to know more about the nutrition content of the food and beverages they order," McDonald's USA president Jan Fields stated in a press release. As the Associated Press notes, "The move comes ahead of a regulation that could require major chains to post the information as early as next year. 'We want to voluntarily do this,' Fields told AP. 'We believe it will help educate customers.'"Continue reading...

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Saucony Running Against Childhood Obesity

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 4, 2012 11:05 AM

An estimated one-third of American children are overweight or obese. In support of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, the Saucony brand is joining the race against this epidemic with the launch of Saucony Run4Good — the running industry’s first iPhone app raising money and awareness around this crisis.

With every mile, runners earn money for community youth running programs fast-tracking kids back to health. “As a brand focused on runners, innovation and social responsibility, we believe the Saucony Run4Good app offers a new world of possibilities to engage with our community in a relevant, innovative and meaningful way while inspiring a strong unity of purpose to make a difference for our kids,” said Chris Lindner, Saucony's CMO and SVP for commerce.

The statistics on U.S. childhood obesity are alarming: almost 20% of children ages 6 to 11 and 18% of those 12 to 19 are considered obese. The CDC estimates that over the past three decades, childhood obesity has more than doubled for preschool children aged 2-5 years and adolescents 12-19 years, and more than tripled for children 6-11 years.Continue reading...

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Fast Food Slows Down as Happy Meal is Cut to the Core

Posted by Mark J. Miller on August 13, 2012 04:22 PM

Fast-food giants share a not-so-secret recipe: make the up sell, adding fries to your bill or talking you into some kind of combination meal.

But the up sell isn’t working quite the way it used to. Consumers aren’t asking for "the #5 with fries" anywhere near as much as they used to, Fortune reports. A study by NPD Group finds that sales of combo meals at fast-food restaurants have gone down 12% in the last five years.

That means a billion fewer combo meals were ordered in the five-year period ending this past January than were ordered up in the five years before that. The lousy economy has something to do with it, but the study also showed that consumers would like to have more options in their combos.

The grand-daddy of the combo meal is the Happy Meal, which has been holding on for dear life. Revamped in time for the London Summer Olympics healthier menu marketing, it's been hit in markets such as Chile, where the government is now prohibiting restaurants (but it might as well say "McDonald's") from including toys with meals.Continue reading...

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McDonald's 24/7: Wooing "Nocturnivores" to Breakfast After Midnight

Posted by Dale Buss on August 8, 2012 03:12 PM

McDonald's reported that same-store sales in July were flat worldwide, and it's getting some social-media flack because of its Olympics sponsorship — neither of which casts a rosy pall on the present reality of its business. But as the chain moves further into the new era of new CEO Don Thompson, it continues to innovate, test and probe for fresh ways to expand the brand, the franchise and its business model. Now those trials include breakfast in the wee hours of the night.

Thanks to the stagnating U.S. economy and greater competition globally, McDonald's reported that sales last month at stores open at least 13 months were unchanged worldwide while sales at domestic locations fell by 0.1 percent. Analysts had expected better on both counts. Meanwhile, because it's a purveyor of fat- and calorie-and sugar-laden products that global citizens want to eat — in contrast with the lean, healthy image of Olympians — McDonald's has been getting more criticism on Twitter than the two dozen other big Olympic sponsors, according to an analysis by WPP's MediaCom.Continue reading...

London 2012

London 2012 Watch: McDonald's All-Star Olympics Crew Includes Mayor McCheese

Posted by Shirley Brady on July 30, 2012 05:42 PM

We've noted how McDonald's, as one of the TOP sponsors of the London 2012 Olympics, is promoting its new lower-calorie menu and Team USA contest in the US, and encouraging kids (and adults) in the UK to get active and check out its revamped Happy Meal, among other local marketing efforts ahead of the games.

The company brought its top executives to London for the Games opening last week, where the big message was "McDonald's Takes Olympic Stage to Announce Advances in Children's Well-Being, Menu Innovation and Access to Nutrition Information."

Now the Summer Games have started, the fast-food giant is rolling out digital and social content that aims to "match the fun, competitive spirit of the Olympics," according to a spokesperson.Continue reading...

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New York Mayor Bloomberg Faces Big Soda Ban Foes

Posted by Dale Buss on July 24, 2012 04:43 PM

New Yorkers were girding for a showdown Wednesday between Mayor Bloomberg and the opponents to his proposed ban on 16-ounce or bigger soft drinks. A mid-afternoon public hearing was scheduled to debate the measure, which still needs approval by the city Board of Health — appointed by the mayor — to take effect.

The ban's opponents could always sue or appeal to the state legislature (or not, judging by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's recent remarks), but the "hundreds" of people who gathered on the steps of City Hall on Monday to oppose the ban, organized by a American Beverage Association coalition called New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, would rather put a stop to Bloomberg's legislation before it goes into effect.Continue reading...

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