THE BLOG

Great Things Happen When We Work Together

02/02/2012 05:47 pm ET | Updated Apr 03, 2012

The non-alcoholic beverage industry is comprised of some of the most innovative and well-respected companies in the world. Our presence is felt in every corner of every community in America -- from our products in the aisles of neighborhood stores, to our local delivery drivers who distribute them, to our support of local community initiatives and more.

We're an industry that takes extraordinary steps to be part of meaningful solutions, whether it's helping meet a community need, doing our part to help reduce childhood obesity or providing consumers with clearer calorie labels to help them make more informed decisions. It is through focused public-private partnerships that we've been most successful at quickly engaging and ultimately driving a positive impact on complex issues like obesity.

Most recently we partnered with the U.S. Conference of Mayors to support and enhance mayors' ongoing childhood obesity prevention programs in their cities. Last week, we were honored to present awards to mayors from six cities whose programs demonstrated creativity and innovativeness, and took a meaningful and comprehensive approach to curbing childhood obesity. We're proud to be working with the U.S. Conference of Mayors and other partners on initiatives like this because of the positive impact it will have on families nationwide.

The partnership with the U.S. Conference of Mayors builds upon long-standing work by our industry to support nutrition education for children, strengthen communities and empower consumers. We're also working closely with our Philadelphia bottlers and distributors on a multi-year partnership with The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. This support of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia expands its Healthy Weight Program to help educate Philadelphia children and families about the importance of balancing calories and engaging in regular physical activity as ways to achieve a balanced, healthy and active lifestyle. This initiative will have national impact through the sharing of research and best practices with children's hospitals across the country.

By teaming with President Bill Clinton and the American Heart Association, our industry has delivered a major change in schools across the country. The fiercely-competitive companies that make up the beverage industry united under a common goal to lead the way on tough societal issues like childhood obesity. Coming together in this unique way to develop national School Beverage Guidelines, our member companies removed full-calorie soft drinks from all schools and replaced them with lower-calorie, smaller-portion beverage choices. As a result of this work, we were able to drive an 88 percent reduction in beverage calories shipped to schools, since 2004. The School Beverage Guidelines are a national standard that is in place and working.

But our commitment to innovation and being part of the solution doesn't stop with schools.  In support of First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign, we united through a voluntary commitment to make the calories in our products even more clear and consumer-friendly by putting calorie information on the front of every bottle, can and pack they produce.  As we approach the two year anniversary of our Clear on Calories initiative, our industry continues to provide greater transparency to consumers, helping them to make the choices that are best for themselves and their families.

The beverage industry's actions speak loudly. Our member companies are providing real help for consumers by delivering more low-calorie and smaller-portion beverage options. There's no other industry that has done more to address calories in schools than the beverage industry. We've put in place what some in government are still only talking about. That's not criticism -- it's an indicator of how quickly industry and other partners are able to accomplish significant and meaningful policies when they work together. It is inventive partnerships like these the beverage industry forged with the American Heart Association, President Bill Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama that generate key, solution-oriented initiatives.

So, the next time you walk down the beverage aisle in your local grocery store or go to grab a drink from the cooler in the corner store, we hope you'll find the calorie labels useful and within the wide variety of choices something that works for you. And while you are at it, consider that there's a lot more to our industry than just refreshing and great-tasting beverages; we're making a real difference.