New York City has joined the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (Alliance), the American Beverage Association, The Coca-Cola Company and industry partners in the Balance Calories Initiative, a national multi-year effort to help reduce beverage calories consumed per person nationally by 20% by 2025. The community-based initiative focuses on increasing access to low-calorie and smaller-portion beverages in  pilot neighborhoods where they has been less interest and access to beverage options.

New York, Los Angeles and Little Rock will be the first three cities to participate as pilot markets.  The New York City communities will include the South Bronx as well as Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights in Brooklyn.  This initiative calls for a focused, multi-pronged approach in neighborhoods within select cities, and is an important part of the landmark agreement reached last fall by the Alliance, the Coca-Cola Company, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, PepsiCo and the American Beverage Association to decrease beverage calories in the American diet.

“Our companies are going to work in a very focused, deliberate manner with these communities to create interest in beverage options that can help them cut their calories,” said Susan Neely, president and CEO of the American Beverage Association. “This begins by offering more no- and low-calorie choices, but also finding innovative ways to encourage consumers to try these products and better balance their calorie consumption from beverages.  We are going to test and learn so we can truly transform the beverage landscape through solutions that work.”

What will people see in their neighborhoods? More marketing of no- and low-calorie options, smaller portion sizes such as mini-cans, and new calorie awareness information on coolers, vending machines and fountain equipment.  They also will see companies offer taste tests and sampling programs, coupons and other incentives, and in-store displays featuring lower-calorie products.  These marketplace activities allow the companies to test and learn in order to develop best practices for implementation in other parts of the country.  The initiative is supported by a public education campaign highlighting “Balance What You Eat, Drink and Do” and Mixify, a program that talks to teens about the importance of balance and supports parents’ ongoing efforts to help their children achieve it.

Each member company, including Coca-Cola, will implement their individual strategies and review best practices for engaging consumers.  With these lessons, we’ll shape future strategies to help meet our goal of reducing beverage calories in the American diet.