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Pepsi preparing to launch mid-calorie pop

PepsiCo Inc. is getting ready to slim down this summer by offering a mid-calorie version of its Pepsi Cola, an industry publication reported Friday.

The new drink, called Pepsi Next, will have 40 calories per 8-ounce serving, or 60 calories per 12-ounce can, according to Beverage Digest. Get the full story »

Diet Coke unseats Pepsi as No. 2 cola

Diet Coke is now the No. 2 soft drink, behind Coke. (Coca-Cola)

U.S. sales of Diet Coke overtook those of Pepsi-Cola for the first time in 2010, making the diet soda the No. 2 carbonated soft drink in the country behind Coca-Cola, industry data are expected to confirm Thursday.

Occupying the top two rankings would mark a historic win for Coca-Cola Co. in its decades-old rivalry with PepsiCo Inc., which has seen its market share slip in recent years and is trying to retool its marketing. Get the full story »

Pepsi ‘green’ bottle made of corn husks, pine bark

PepsiCo Inc has developed a bottle made from plant-based, renewable resources that is fully recyclable, and will start using it in a test program next year.

The company’s new “green” bottle is currently being made from materials such as switch grass, pine bark and corn husks. In the future, components for the bottle may include orange and potato peels, oat hulls and other byproducts left over from the company’s food business. Get the full story »

Critics aren’t big on ’skinny’ Diet Pepsi can

Diet Pepsi has introduced a new “skinny” can for Fashion Week, but some critics are giving it a big, fat “no.”

The can is a “taller, sassier” version of the traditional can that the company says was made in “celebration of beautiful, confident women.” Some say Pepsi’s approach only reinforces dangerous stereotypes about women and body image. Get the full story »

Hundreds of companies get health-care waivers

Hundreds of employers have received federal waivers from a new requirement in the health-care overhaul law.

Government figures show that 733 applicants, mainly employers and union-affiliated insurers, received an exemption from a requirement that puts their plans on the hook for up to $750,000 in eligible medical bills for each covered worker this year. Most of those plans now have reimbursement limits that are a fraction of that amount. Get the full story »

Busch again in lead on Super Bowl commercials

Anheuser-Busch said Friday it will feature five commercials in the  broadcast of the 2011 Super Bowl.

The brewer also announced that it will be the exclusive beer advertiser for the Super Bowl for the 23rd consecutive year. Get the full story »

Gatorade taps top marketer as N. American head

Gatorade North America has named Sarah Robb O’Hagan as its new president and global chief marketing officer for sports nutrition. She succeeds Rich Beck, who will be senior vice president of global supply chain operations at PepsiCo, Gatorade’s parent.

Robb O’Hagan joined Gatorade in 2008 as chief marketing officer, spearheading the company’s launch of G Series, a three-product sales proposition for before, during and after workouts. Gatorade now offers a G Series for elite athletes and competitive high school athletes. The company is launching a G Series for fitness athletes in the spring, including energy bar bites. Get the full story »

Gatorade aims to reinvent itself as ‘nutrition’ drink

Battling back from a dismal 2009, Gatorade is putting on its game face and launching a new advertising campaign seeking to cast itself as more than a sports drink.

Starting Wednesday, the Chicago-based unit of PepsiCo Inc. will be promoting in commercials its “G Series,” a trio of products it introduced earlier this year that targets student athletes looking for a drink before, during and after a workout or athletic event. Get the full story »

Sweeteners latest battlefront in soft-drink wars

The soft drink makers who brought you the “cola wars” are gearing up to fight on another battlefield, where the secret weapons are sweeteners and “flavor enhancers.”

John Sicher, editor of trade publication Beverage Digest calls it the “ingredient war.” Get the full story »

Merger to make new No. 2 snack giant

The peanut butter and cheese crackers of Lance Inc. are just one vote away from being combined with the pretzels of Snyder’s of Hanover Inc. as the companies aim to form the country’s No. 2 producer of salty snacks after PepsiCo Inc.’s Frito-Lay division.

Shareholders of Charlotte-based Lance cast 96 percent of their votes Thursday in favor of issuing the stock needed to merge with privately-held Snyder’s of Hanover, Pa. Snyder’s shareholders will vote on the merger Friday, and if they approve, the companies could complete the move Monday. The new company would be called Snyder’s-Lance.

Deal makes PepsiCo largest food co. in Russia

PepsiCo Inc. is buying a majority stake in Russian company Wimm-Bill-Dann Foods for $3.8 billion. The move will make PepsiCo the biggest Russian food and beverage company and broaden its presence in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Get the full story »

PepsiCo’s third-quarter profit rises, but shares fall

PepsiCo Inc.’s third-quarter net income rose 12 percent on strong sales gains in drinks and Frito-Lay snacks abroad, but shares fell after the company lowered the top end of its guidance because of investments to expand its presence overseas. Shares fell $2.01, or 3 percent, to $65.10 in heavy volume Thursday.

SunChips to ditch green bags for quiet ones

It looks like PepsiCo’s  Frito-Lay division is giving its SunChips bags another make over — only to make sure they are less noisy.

Frito-Lay hopes to quiet complaints about the chips bags by switching out the biodegradable bags for older packaging on most flavors, AP reports.

The change comes after consumers had grumbled about the loud crackling sound the biodegradable bags made.

The company is switching back to original packaging, which is made of a type of plastic, for five of the six varieties of the chips, AP says.

Pepsi returning to Super Bowl

Pepsi is back in the game. The soft drink brand will advertise in next year’s Super Bowl after sitting out last year for the first time in more than two decades. Pepsi said Wednesday it will air three ads created by fans for its Pepsi MAX brand. The company has been marketing its no-calorie version of namesake Pepsi to counteract Coca-Cola’s fast-growing Coke Zero.

PepsiCo hopes to revive Quaker with new products

PepsiCo Inc. is hoping to revive its Quaker division, headquartered in Chicago, with new types of cereal, a reformulation of its instant oatmeal and a new marketing campaign.

The brand’s trademark hot and cold cereals have been hurting in the down economy as people shift away from name brands to save money. They’re also not eating as much breakfast, said Quaker President Jaya Kumar. So the company is adding whole grains, removing sugar and focusing on the healthy aspects of breakfast to link its brands to the first meal of the day. Get the full story »