Coca-Cola, PepsiCo sales likely to withstand WHO aspartame cancer ruling

By: Trademagazin editor Date: 2023. 07. 25. 09:16

The World Health Organization’s announcement last week that aspartame is “possibly carcinogenic” is unlikely to meaningfully impact sales at Coca-Cola and PepsiCo or cause the beverage companies to suddenly abandon the hotly debated ingredient in favor of another sugar alternative.

Brittany Quatrochi, an analyst at Edward Jones, who covers PepsiCo and Coca-Cola said that they didn’t see any big impact of the the WHO’s statement. She added that red and processed meat, as well as alcohol, are cited by the WHO as having a stronger correlation with cancer than aspartame, and many consumers continue to partake in those offerings.

Diet sodas have been a bright spot for Coca-Cola and PepsiCo in an otherwise sour market where regular cola sales have plunged as consumers cut back on their sugar intake. Currently, diet sodas make up 27% of the carbonated soft drink market, according to Statista.

The sweetener has drawn its share of critics who have noted reported links between the sugar replacement and cancer and other illness.

But the lion’s share of studies and health regulatory agencies around the world, including the FDA, have backed aspartame’s safety and cited a rigorous amount of testing for the food additive.

The FDA reaffirmed its support of aspartame last week while criticizing the studies used by WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer that declared the potential connection to cancer.

A separate group at WHO, the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), said it considered the cancer risk and concluded that “the evidence of an association between aspartame consumption and cancer in humans is not convincing.”

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