Monday, February 4, 2013


Caffeine is being demonized as an undesirable food constituent that can be addictive and stimulant to be avoided by children, old age people and pregnant women. But till to date it has never been implicated in any health disorders of serious dimension. With the advent of cola beverages, caffeine consumption started increasing as it is a significant component in all such drinks. While caffeine was a matter of concern in these drinks, over a period of time it was overtaken by the sugar content in these drinks which was held responsible, at least partly, for the obesity syndrome in a country like the US. It is shocking that an average American gulps down more that 500 ml of cola beverage a day which constitutes almost 40% of liquid intake! In spite of many policy orchestrations and campaigns to reduce soda consumption, there was hardly any impact on this practice. Against such a background the recent news that Americans are switching over to coffee from soda in large numbers is a welcome development. Here is a take on this phenomenal change in the consumer attitude of late.  

"Ten years ago, Americans drank enough soda every year to fill a small aquarium. Fifty-three gallons of the stuff per person. That's half a liter of Diet Coke on an average day. Compare that to our other favorite liquid-caffeine companion. For every cup of coffee we consumed in 2003, we drank two cups of soft drink. For $1 we spent on joe, we spent $4 on soda. Now look where we are: Soda is in a free fall, with domestic revenue down 40%. Coffee culture is ascendant, up 50% in 10 years. In another decade, the United States could easily spend more on coffee than soda — something utterly unthinkable at the turn of the century (industry data via IBISWorld)"

Whether more consumption of coffee is better in terms of health is a debatable point but such a shift in consumer behavior will definitely contribute to lesser intake of sugar and its attendant benefits. The million dollar question is regarding the future of the soda industry which has been raking in record money for the last 6-7 decades through a captive consumer market? Probably the industry may yet see the writing on the wall and hopefully offer better products with more emphasis on the well being of the consumer. Explosive growth of coffee shops like Starbucks and others can have another implication because unlike the classic black coffee drink usually consumed in that country, the new "Avatars" are selling sugar laden variants of coffee using sugar syrup liberally and if this trend continues Americans will be back to square one, making no difference whether one drinks soda or coffee!  


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