Dairy Queen has announced it will remove sodas from its kids’ menu effective September 1 of this year. The company made the announcement earlier this week in a letter addressed to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
“Under our recommendation, drinks such as milk and bottled water would solely be listed as menu options at DQ locations. I am pleased to inform you that during our most recent meeting, the FAC (Franchise Advisory Council) voted unanimously to remove soft drinks from our kids’ menu,” William Barrier, executive vice president of product development and quality, wrote in the letter.
Instead of soda, children will be offered water or milk. The restaurant joins McDonald’s, Burger King, Chipotle, Wendy’s, and Panera in removing soda from their children’s menus.
Dairy Queen i as subsidiary of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, which happens to be Coca Cola’s largest shareholder and the largest beverage supplier to U.S. restaurants. Restaurants have been feeling pressure from public interest groups focused on reducing childhood obesity, including First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Drink Up’’ campaign, which encourages Americans to drink more water. As a result, soda sales have been tanking in recent years.
But soda will have a tougher time winning over the next generation if it can’t reach it easily, with some data suggesting U.S. consumption is falling faster among youth than adults.
Some 63.7% of Americans younger than 18 had a carbonated soft drink at least once in two weeks in early 2014, down from 77.3% a decade earlier, according to market researcher NPD Group. Over the same period consumption dropped to 74.3% from 81.7% among adult men and to 70.2% from 78.6% among adult women.
Outside the home, annual per capita soda servings for children between six and 12 years dropped to 33.5 in 2014 from 44.8 in 2009. For children younger than six, servings fell to 19.9 from 27.7 over the same period, according to NPD. It estimates children consume about 40% of their soda away from home.
According to Food World News, soda manufacturers are complicit in this movement to keep their products out of the hands of children:
Back in 2006, the three major soda companies in the world (Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper) agreed to take soft drinks off schools, and now they claim they don’t target children in marketing their products – they’ve also agreed to lower the sugar amounts in the drinks.
What we’re seeing here is the soda industry voluntarily participating in its own demise. Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Dr. Pepper — and even shareholders like Berkshire Hathaway — are cheerfully going along with the systematic, selective removal of their products from key markets. Will they allow this to continue until sugary soft drinks are banned altogether? These companies are so frightened of the backlash from these health-conscious, anti-sugar bullies that they are willing to stand by as their profitable sugary sodas are deleted from restaurant menus and banned from vending machines. I’ve never heard of a business model like this working, but maybe that 280,000% markup they get on bottled water will make up the difference. That, or they’re planning on a government bailout when their industry goes belly up in a few years. (That’s where I’d put my money.)