Monday, February 27, 2012

Big Soft Drink Meets Big Dairy

I’m actually kind of torn by this article. It’s a press release that lauds the effort of Pepsi and the largest dairy in Germany to open a yogurt making facility in New York. On the one hand, I’m happy that new jobs are being created in the United States—we need more manufacturing here. For another thing, yogurt—especially the Greek yogurt that is going to be produced at the new facility—is one of the healthier things you can produce from milk.

But I just can’t get behind this. For starters, the alliance between the world’s second largest soft drink supplier and the dairy industry is not one we should be happy about. We know that Pepsi does not have our health at the top of its list of priorities. That is a pretty obvious reason to view this partnership in a negative light.

Secondly, inputs matter. How healthy is the milk that is going to be used to make the yogurt? How are the cows treated? How is the milk treated? If you don’t start out with world-class raw milk, then the product will suffer. Make no mistake, this move by Pepsi is about profit, and when profit is the primary motive, corners will be cut.

However, my chief concern is this. I love Greek yogurt. When made properly, it concentrates the naturally occurring protein and fat in the yogurt, meaning you get more of each with fewer calories. You even get less sugar.  The problem I have is this. Is there any chance that a corporate behemoth like Pepsi is going to take a good idea and leave it be? The answer is a resounding no. In fact, most of the Greek yogurt you see in stores today is fat-free (we know that dairy has good fat) and has either sugar or artificial sweeteners added to it. I’m pretty sure that we are in for more of the same.