PepsiCo, owner of the Tropicana line of juice products, has found a new way to squeeze revenue from the orange branch of their family tree. Leveraging consumer’s misplaced fixation on low-calorie, low-sugar alternatives, Tropicana has been selling Trop50, a juice with “50% less sugar and calories.”

This doesn’t sound like an unreasonable idea until you realize what this offering is – your same cup of juice, just in a watered-down version. Yes, the key addition here is water. Naturally, Tropicana is not decreasing the cost for the beverage, instead imposing an apparent “convenience fee” for diluting your drink.

Trop50 has been around since 2009, but people are only talking about it now because it is actually selling – and at an increasing rate.

I understand that companies need to turn a profit. What I don’t understand is why companies have to try and deceive consumers to do it. By selling a product under the guise of a “healthy alternative,” when really they are just trying to get someone to buy a container of watered-down juice for the same price as the regular stuff – it is crossing a line in my book. It is hard enough to make sensible decisions in the grocery aisle without all of the dubious labeling. Tropicana is certainly not the only company doing this, but few are as blatant.

Besides this scam making the brand look bad, the popularity of the juice isn’t putting consumers in a good light – either they know their juice is watered-down, and are just too lazy to do it for themselves, or they don’t know, and have fallen for the scam. Which is worse?

Regardless, I think the following quote from PepsiCo Global Beverages Chief Massimo D’Amore says it all: “We have lost perspective here on the primary reason we are in business, which is to make money.”

Sounds pretty customer-friendly to me.

H/t to Business Week for the scoop.

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9 Responses

  1. thomas

    PepsiCo is in business to make money, and if people are willing to pay them to water down their juice, then it makes sense for them to supply watered down juice. They certainly aren’t the only ones doing this as companies have been selling watered-down juice marketed towards small children and often at a markup for years.

  2. Jay

    My wife and I tried Top50 when it first came out. It tasted like crap. I never looked at the ingredients list, but saying that they added water makes total sense.
    When I drink OJ, I want the full OJ flavor.

  3. JillInTheBox

    I love Trop50. Regular OJ, even the low acid kind, gives me horrible heartburn! But the Trop50 doesn’t! So I get all the joy of the OJ without the bellyache…

  4. JackInTheBox

    Jill you are exactly the gullible consumer they are looking for… Even after reading the article you either don’t get it or are a shill for the company.

    Buy regular OJ, pour half a glass, fill with water, and thank me. I just saved you $2-3.

  5. J.Nathan

    Jack, One thing I would like to point out, is that Rebiana, or Reb A, that is used to add sweetness to this product, is actually known to decrease heartburn, so Jill couldn’t actually just water down orange juice and get the same effect. She’d also have to purchase Truvia, or PureVia and add it as well. These Stevia extract products are not cheap, and would add to the cost overall. Whether this would equal the cost of Trop50, I don’t know… but it would cost more than just watering down her orange juice.

    I am pregnant, my sugar intake is restricted, and I also have (and have always had) severe GERD. The Trop50 raspberry lemonade, and the pear lychee white tea are amazing for me! Neither of them make my tummy hurt, and they aren’t loaded with sugar. I water them down by half!! I also have a horrific reaction to splenda, it triggers migraines, so many other products that use alternative sweeteners are a huge nono for me, and splenda is hiding in almost everything these days! I don’t think it’s fair to call Jill gullible because she found a product that works for her!

    I haven’t tried the OJ, but I may get around to it eventually. I don’t really like OJ overall- it’s always made my GERD act up, but if Jill says it doesn’t irritate her stomach it might be worth a try!

  6. Indra K. Nooyi

    When I first drank the delicious, refreshing Trop50, I gained the ability of telekinesis and time-travel.

  7. Mark

    I just drank some of this stuff last night, someone brought it to a brunch at my house and left it behind. I did’t read the label prior to opening the jug and drinking it. I took the first couple swallows, tasted something I didn’t like, then read the label. The truvia or whatever additive is in there jumped right out at me and the rest of it went down the drain. Yuck


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