News & Politics

Diet Pepsi to Bring Back Aspertame Version

The Pepsi Company will be bringing its aspertame version of Diet Pepsi back to market.

Pepsi reformulated its soda into an “aspertame-free” version less than a year ago and it was awful. I am a lifetime Diet Pepsi drinker and devotee but I had to switch to Diet Coke because the new Pepsi version was so foul.

Apparently, I was not alone.

Less than a year after launching its new Diet Pepsi with sucralose—and abandoning the controversial sweetener aspartame—PepsiCo has made an about-face. On Monday, after plummeting sales and howls of protest from the diet soda’s devotees, the company announced it will bring back Diet Pepsi with aspartame in September.

The company said it is bringing its original version back because “consumers want choice in diet colas.”

Results of the switch to sucralose (Splenda) was brutal for the company.

But its reformulation effort—launched last August—had made the market share losses worse, not better. U.S. retail sales of Diet Pepsi fell 10.6% in volume terms in the first quarter of 2016; its soda market share fell 0.4 percentage points to 4.1% in the period, according to industry tracker Beverage Digest. Sales of Coca-Cola Co. ’s Diet Coke declined 5.7% over the same period. Diet Coke has a 7.4% soda-market share.

Pepsi spent two years making the change to sucralose, testing different version of the drink and conducting research.

But the negative backlash was immediate after the new version began hitting store shelves last August. Longtime Diet Pepsi drinkers took to social media, using unflattering terms like “unpalatable” and “yuck” to broadcast their distaste.

This is so true. The Wall Street Journal reports that the ratio of negative comments to positive was six to one after the initial roll out.

Pepsi, what took you so long?