Grocery Stores Awash in Sugary Drink Placements, Report Finds

Survey of Washington, DC Area Grocers Finds Soda in 30 Places per Store, on Average

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Grocery stores in Washington DC place sugary drinks like soda, punches, lemonades, and sports drinks in an average of 30 locations per store, according to a new report released today by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The report, Soda on Display, assessed how many times shoppers can encounter sugary drink placements or promotions in a grocery store.  

The report found that across 16 stores in the DC area, sugary drinks were placed in anywhere from eight to 59 different locations per store. On average, sugary drink price promotions, a way for companies to boost sales and create brand loyalty, appeared on nine displays. Overall, the report found that the number of sugary drink placements and price promotions increased with store size. The data for the report were collected in July 2019.  

Food and beverage manufacturers spend large amounts of money to market their products, including sugar-sweetened beverages, in prominent places in grocery stores and supermarkets. This is a powerful marketing tool that can contribute to greater consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages––the top source of added sugar in Americans’ diets––and associated chronic disease, according to the report. 

“Research tells us that people want to eat healthily and want grocery stores to play a role in promoting community health,” said Sara John, senior policy scientist at CSPI. “Aggressive marketing of sugary drinks thwarts what consumers want and makes it harder to make healthier choices for themselves and their families.” 

To counter the ubiquity of sugary drinks and promotions, the report also recommended that retailers limit the placement and promotion of sugary drinks by replacing them with healthier alternatives, keeping them in a designated soda aisle, and eliminating manufacturers’ coupons. The report also called for additional research across different regions and stores. 

Contact Info: 

Katherine Shek, 703-362-0803 or Tia Schwab, (202) 777-8336