The School Beverage Guidelines Progress Report 2006-2007 released today is the initial report on implementation of the national guidelines, which call for industry to provide for lower-calorie, smaller-portion and nutritious options in schools. The industry also has committed to remove all full-calorie soft drinks by the 2009-2010 school year. The removal of full-calorie soft drinks as well as the calorie caps and smaller portion sizes imposed on other beverages, like sports drinks and juice, are contributing to the overall cut in calories in schools.
America's leading beverage companies -- Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages, The Coca-Cola Company and Pepsi -- collaborated with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to create the national guidelines in the spring of last year. The Alliance is a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and William J. Clinton Foundation.
"We're cutting calories in schools and making wholesale change to the beverage choices in schools across America," said Susan Neely, president and chief executive officer of the American Beverage Association. "The hard work of our companies and bottlers is already making a real difference reducing the calories students drink in school. We're delivering."
The beverage industry is publishing this report as part of its commitment under the guidelines to educate the public about progress during the three- year implementation period. The data measurement and statistics in the report were prepared by Keybridge Research LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based economic analysis and public policy research firm under the direction of Dr. Robert Wescott.
The report measures beverage shipments to schools during the 2006-2007 school year and then compares these shipments to data from 2004 shipments, the year when the last comprehensive review of school beverage data was conducted.
The Keybridge Research report highlights three important markers of progress:
-- Calories are coming out of schools. There has been a 41% cut in total calories contained in all beverages shipped to schools between 2004 and the 2006-2007 school year.
-- The school beverage landscape is changing. There has been a 45% reduction in shipments of full-calorie soft drinks to schools during that time. The report shows that the average high school student consumed less than half a can of full-calorie soft drinks a week in school (5.9 ounces), compared with a little more than a full can a week (12.5 ounces) in 2004. In contrast to the drop in full-calorie soft drinks, shipments of waters are up by 23% since 2004.
-- School contracts are on track -- In the first year, 35% of all contracts between bottlers and school districts have achieved compliance with the guidelines, on track for the three-year implementation plan.
"The changes have been quite dramatic," Wescott said. "The number of calories going into schools has declined substantially, with shipments of full-calorie carbonated soft drinks falling almost in half."
The report said industry's gains in cutting calories and implementing the guidelines are "particularly noteworthy" given the tremendous logistical and manufacturing challenges faced in the first year of transition. Companies spent thousands of hours educating and training sales forces throughout the country on the specifics of the guidelines, as well as revising existing contracts between bottlers and schools. They invested millions on retrofitting vending machines, repackaging products, reconfiguring production lines and equipment and other implementation activities.
All of these efforts continue today as industry works toward full implementation by the 2009-2010 school year. In fact, even more progress in changing the product mix took place this summer when students were not in schools and changes were less disruptive.
"The shift to lower-calorie beverages occurred steadily throughout the course of the 2006-2007 school year," Wescott said. "This suggests that there are even fewer calories in schools as students return for the new school year and that we are on track to see even more progress in 2007-2008."
Neely said the progress report underscores the ability of a unique collaboration between the beverage industry and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to produce substantive solutions on social policy. The voluntary School Beverage Guidelines are being implemented in all schools nationwide and making a difference, she added.
"The bottlers are demonstrating through their actions their commitment to cutting calories in schools and contributing to an educational environment where students can learn to balance calories consumed with calories burned," Neely said. "Our companies are making it happen, now."
The national School Beverage Guidelines were introduced on May 3, 2006, by President Clinton and leaders from Pepsi, The Coca-Cola Company, Cadbury Schweppes, the American Heart Association and the American Beverage Association. The guidelines are based on calories, providing for a broad range of lower-calorie, nutritious, smaller-portion beverage choices. This includes 100% juice, low-fat milk and bottled water in middle schools, with the addition of diet sodas, calorie-capped sports drinks and enhanced waters, and low-calorie teas in high schools.
For complete details on the national School Beverage Guidelines and a copy of the full progress report go to http://www.schoolbeverages.com/.
From the September 24, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash