It looks like Jones is going to try something new moving forward:
Jones Soda will switch to pure cane sugar
By CRAIG HARRIS
Jones Soda Co., looking for a marketing advantage, is making the switch to pure cane sugar from high fructose corn syrup as a soda sweetener.
“It’s better for you, it’s better-tasting and, overall, it’s better for the environment,” Peter van Stolk, the company’s chief executive officer, said Tuesday.
Seattle-based Jones, which makes root beer, cream soda and quirky drinks with flavors such as turkey and gravy, will sell 12-ounce canned sodas with pure cane sugar after Jan. 1. All of the company’s products will make the switch by mid-2007, van Stolk said.
The change at Jones Soda comes at a time when high fructose corn syrup, which became a common sweetener for sodas in the late 1970s and early 1980s, has received negative publicity as being linked to obesity and diabetes.
Even Oprah Winfrey, who wields influence over consumers, has encouraged viewers on her show to avoid high fructose corn syrup.
Jones is following the lead of other small bottlers who are touting the use of pure cane sugar as making their products taste better.
“Jones Soda is a treat. It’s an indulgence,” van Stolk said. “If you are going to sell a treat, you should make people feel good about it. Pure cane sugar has a different taste. It’s a cleaner taste, and people feel good about it. It’s a little thing. But in the beverage industry, it’s really challenging to do.”
Van Stolk said his company is able to make the switch because Jones Soda remains a relatively small operation. He said major operations such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi would have a difficult time making a major conversion.
Bottling companies made the switch to high fructose corn syrup in the late 1970s when sugar prices increased. Since then, the syrup has become a common ingredient in foods and beverages.
Audrae Erickson, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Corn Refiners Association, said high fructose syrup is a safe ingredient, and she said obesity rates have climbed in other countries, such as Mexico, where there is little use of it.
Susan Gins, a Seattle-based nutritionist, said there’s a belief in the medical community that high fructose corn syrup can increase diabetes and other epidemic diseases caused by obesity.
Gins said the body has difficulty processing high fructose corn syrup at high levels.
In Dublin, Texas, pure cane sugar has been a key ingredient in Dublin Dr Pepper, which began selling the popular soft drink in 1891.
“It’s just a superior product when you use pure cane sugar than corn syrup,” said Amanda Rasberry, an administrator at the Dublin facility. “It’s just a better-quality taste.”
Don Rubenstein, owner of Dr Soda in Pacoima, Calif., said that during the past 18 months, smaller bottling companies have started using pure cane sugar.
He said some bottlers in Southern California and in the Southwest are making the change to compete against soft drinks made in Mexico.
In addition to sodas, Jones Soda develops, produces and markets ready-to-drink organic teas, citrus energy drinks and non-carbonated juices and teas.