Updated with comments from PepsiCo.
Score one for aspartame lovers.
Less than a year after removing the artificial sweetener from Diet Pepsi, PepsiCo (PEP) - Get Report will bring back its previous formula in a limited number of packages, according to Beverage Digest. The drink's light blue cans will be labeled with "Classic Sweetener Blend" and will be on shelves in September, said Beverage Digest. Aspartame-free Diet Pepsi will continue to be offered, while Pepsi MAX will be re-introduced to U.S. consumers as Pepsi Zero Sugar.
"PepsiCo's aspartame-free formula was a significant gamble with a large cash-generating brand that has so far not worked to plan," Beverage Digest said. PepsiCo confirmed the report via email to TheStreet. "Consumers want choice in diet colas, so we're refreshing our U.S. lineup to provide three options that meet differing needs and taste preferences," said a PepsiCo spokeswoman.
The decision marks a rare product miss for the beverage giant. Last August, Diet Pepsi in the U.S. launched with a blend of sucralose and acesulfame potassium as sweeteners as opposed to the long-used aspartame. Aspartame has been linked to cancer in lab mice, among other potential health risks that have caused more health-conscious consumers to abandon diet colas from PepsiCo and arch rival Coca-Cola (KO) - Get Report in recent years.
But the taste of new Diet Pepsi was quickly panned by consumers on social media. And they voiced their opinion at the supermarket.
Diet Pepsi volume declined 5.8% last year, according to data from Beverage Digest. Sales trends worsened in the first quarter. Diet Pepsi volume fell 10.6%, almost double the 5.7% decline for Diet Coke, which stayed with aspartame as its primary sweetener.
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