It's people! Sunny Delight is people!

Sunny Delight is a fruit-flavoured beverage produced and marketed by Procter and Gamble. Its vivid colour, backed by intensive ad campaigns, have made it an immensely popular drink with children. On its official website, it is sold as a good source of vitamins and calcium, and indeed it does contain both. Of greater concern to health authorities and consumer watchdogs are the other ingredients.

The chief concern is sugar; sources place the high fructose content of Sunny Delight at 10%, with juice content trailing at around 5%. This might be considered another factor of the drink's success in the youth market, but it is the target of some criticism.

In 2002 a coalition including the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Florida Department of Citrus campaigned against the perceived marketing of "Sunny D" as a healthy alternative to fruit juice. Procter and Gamble countered that the juice content was advertised on the label and that the drink was not in competition with juice drinks. However, a poll conducted by the coalition found that two thirds of children believed the product was mainly composed of juice.

In the UK, the Health Education Authority advised parents to view Sunny Delight as a "sugar-sweetened fruit drink" rather than a juice, to limit children's consumption to mealtimes, and to dilute Sunny Delight for under-fives to protect their teeth. The Food Authority also issued critical comments about the sugar content and Sunny Delight being a poor substitute for natural fruit juices. (again, P&G's response would be that the drink is not sold as such).

These campaigns had some effect: in 2001 sales of Sunny Delight in the UK dropped by 35%. Health campaigns were not the only factor; rival drinks were marketed with a stress on their low-sugar, high-juice content, and there was no small furore when a child turned orange as a result of drinking Sunny Delight, although it turned out she was practically overdosing on the drink - a similar level of carrot consumption would have had the same effect. Nevertheless, this classic example of bad publicity was a press favourite at the time, and dealt a heavy blow.

Procter and Gamble's response to the health concerns was to launch a new range of Sunny Delight flavours containing only natural sugars and raising the juice level to 15%. Sales have not particularly improved, however, and recent reports (July 2003) suggest that Procter and Gamble are considering selling the brand.

References:

  • http://www.sunnyd.com/faq_contact/faq.html
  • http://www.cspinet.org/new/sunny_042402.html
  • http://www.cspinet.org/new/sunnyd_factsheet.html
  • http://www.thefooddoctor.com/displayarticle_HV.htm?ArticleID=120
  • http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/stories/2002/04/22/daily51.html
  • http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/business/6316588.htm
  • http://www.bized.ac.uk/stafsup/exams/news/040302pr.htm

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