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Interesting confluence of soft drink-related stories this morning...

• The Washington Post reports on how Todd Putman, a former top marketing executive with Coca-Cola, spoke to a "National Soda Summit" in Washington, DC, this week about how he feels the soft drink industry - and especially his former employer - has too much power.

Putman, the Post writes, "wanted to give an inside account of what he contends has been a drive by Coca-Cola to replace not just its direct competitors but all beverages in the American diet — a campaign for what the company called 'share of stomach.' He wanted to warn about the industry’s particular focus on young people and minorities.

"But mostly he wanted to level the playing field.

"'I’m not against soft drinks per se,' he began carefully. 'What I am for is balance of power. And I think the power has shifted in the wrong direction. The resources, the scale, the intelligence, the strategy these companies use is intense. We need to take all that thinking . . . all that strategy and convert it — jujitsu it — to healthy products'."

The Post writes that, "contacted for a response to Putman’s comments, a spokesman for Coca-Cola, Ben Sheidler, said share of stomach is no longer 'part of our company’s strategy.'

“'Todd Putman left Coca-Cola over 12 years ago after working here for only three years,' Sheidler said. 'Since Putman left, our business has changed dramatically.'

"As an example, he said that 41 percent of the total volume of Coca-Cola trademark products sold in North America is now low- or no-calorie — up from 1 percent in 1982 and 32 percent in 1999.

"The company has also voluntarily removed full-calorie carbonated drinks from schools, and voluntarily lists calorie information on its packages, Sheidler said."

• Meanwhile, USA Today has an interview with Katie Bayne, Coca-Cola's president of sparkling beverages in North America, in which she refutes some of the claims made by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg as he pushes for a ban on jumbo sugared soft drinks as a way of combatting obesity.

Bayne says that "during the period from 1999 through 2010, when obesity was rising, sugar intake from beverages was decreasing. During that period, she says, sugars from soda consumption fell 39% even as the percentage of obese kids jumped 13% and obese adults climbed 7%."
KC's View:
I have no doubt of Putman's sincerity, but I would point out that he currently runs a marketing company that only handles healthy products. So while he may have started that company as a reaction to his feelings about Coke, going public with these criticisms can only be good for business.

Just sayin'...