ST. LOUIS — Panera Bread is introducing a new fountain beverage cup in its restaurants that lists the calories and added sugars in the company’s six new craft beverages, as well as regular cola. Ranging from 0 calories to 160 calories per serving, the new beverage offerings include passion papaya green tea, prickly pear hibiscus fresca, agave lemonade, blood orange lemonade, iced black tea and plum ginger hibiscus tea.
Panera Bread’s “sweet facts” cup is the company’s answer to national survey data that revealed 99% of Americans do not know the amount of added sugar in a 20-oz serving of standard cola. The study was commissioned by Panera Bread and also found that 83% of Americans underestimate the amount of sugar in regular cola.
The company said it already has seen an 8% shift toward increased consumption of medium and lightly sweetened beverages over fountain soda since it began declaring added sugar and calories in fountain beverages on in-cafe signage in March, when the craft beverages also were introduced.
“We believe it’s up to companies to take the lead on transparency, not wait for legislation,” said Ron Shaich, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Panera Bread. “Earlier this year we became the first national restaurant company to post both calories and added sugar at the point of pour, but we quickly saw that we could — and should — do more. With the combination of more information and better options available, we’re seeing our guests begin to trade from fountain soft drinks to our new clean beverages.”
The new cup is currently available in eight markets and is slated for a nationwide roll-out. The effort is the latest in a series of initiatives undertaken by Panera Bread to provide greater transparency to consumers. Earlier this year, the company announced its food menu was completely free of artificial sweeteners, preservatives, flavors and colors from artificial sources. The company also recently committed to compliance with Menu Labeling and Retail Food Labeling laws by the original 2018 date, despite delays in legislation.“Kudos to Panera for informing its customers of the added-sugars content of its beverages, and for doing it in a convenient, understandable way,” said Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D., Center for Science in the Public Interest. “The Food and Drug Administration insists that labels list added sugars in terms of grams, which few Americans understand. Panera is disclosing added sugars in terms of teaspoons, which everyone understands. That’s the latest thing that Panera has done to earn its reputation of being arguably the nation’s most responsible chain restaurant.”