Panera Bread Co. is rolling out new fountain cups that list beverage calories and sugar amounts, the company said Wednesday.
The St. Louis, Mo.-based bakery-café chain, which went private earlier this year in a $7.5 billion deal with JAB Holding Co., said the effort was aimed at better informing customers.
“We believe it’s up to companies to take the lead on transparency, not wait for legislation,” said Ron Shaich, Panera founder, chairman and CEO, in a statement.
The company also cited a commissioned nationwide survey by KRC Research that found 99 percent of 1,092 respondents did not know the amount of added sugar in a 20-ounce cola and 83 percent underestimated the amount.
The new “sweet facts” fountain beverage cups begin to roll out this week. They list the calories and added sugar in each of its six new craft beverages, as well as regular cola. The new cup is available in eight markets and will roll out nationwide to complement the national availability of Panera’s “clean craft beverages.”
In April, Panera introduce new non-carbonated craft tea, lemonade and frescas made with no artificial sweeteners, preservatives, flavors or colors from artificial sources. They were accompanied by signage at the dispensing stations.
“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,” Shaich said. “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.”
Panera said it has seen an eight percent shift toward consumption of the medium and lightly sweetened beverages as compared to the fountain soda.
Many customers are unaware of the sugar amounts in traditional fountain drinks, said Sara Burnett, Panera’s director of wellness and food policy.
“We want to allow guests to make informed choices relative to beverages,” Burnett said. “Guests have the right to know they could be drinking 17 teaspoons of added sugar per 20 ounces depending on the beverage choice they make. That’s more than the daily USDA guidelines.”
The newer Panera beverages include Iced Black Tea and Plum Ginger Hibiscus Tea, which is unsweetened, and Prickly Pear Hibiscus Fresca, which is sweetened with fruit juice.
As of June 27, Panera had 2,043 bakery-cafes in 46 states and in Ontario, Canada, under the names o Panera Bread, St. Louis Bread Co. and Paradise Bakery & Café.
Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless