In a move that has echoes of the “Classic Coke” fiasco of several years ago, PepsiCo is bringing back aspartame and shuffling its beverage lineup. Diet Pepsi with aspartame will return as “Diet Pepsi Classic Sweetener Blend” starting in September, the AP reports.
The move comes “after PepsiCo saw sales plummet following its reformulation of the drink last summer to remove the artificial sweetener,” the story reports, adding: “The move is intended to appease fans who don’t like the taste of the reformulated drink, which is made with the artificial sweetener sucralose.”
The new aspartame beverage will come in 12-ounce cans, 2-liter bottles and 20-ounce bottles.
“But PepsiCo Inc. said Diet Pepsi made with sucralose, commonly known by the brand name Splenda, will remain its primary diet soda offering,” the AP reports. “Those cans will be silver, while the ‘classic’ Diet Pepsi with aspartame will come in light blue packaging.”
Pepsi and Coke tried different strategies in response to declining sales for their flagship diet beverages, which industry executives have blamed on customers’ concerns over aspartame. While Pepsi reformulated Diet Pepsi, Coke tested ads a few years ago defending the safety of the sweetener.
“In the first quarter of this year, sales volume for Diet Pepsi sank 10.6 percent, according to industry tracker Beverage Digest,” the AP reports. “Diet Coke, which stuck with aspartame, saw volume decline a more moderate 5.7 percent.”