Now that Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and other sugary soda producers are planning to list health information on vending machines, calorie counts aren't just for the likes of McDonald's and fast food joints.
In full view of consumers, the machines will have a "Calories Count" display alongside messages such as "Check Then Choose" and "Try a Low-Calorie Beverage," according to the American Beverage Assn. trade group.
Labels listing the number of calories per container will be affixed to selection buttons. More lower-calorie drinks will be offered in the machines, which will initially be available in government buildings in Chicago and San Antonio.
None initially, however, in New York, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently pushed through a ban on certain sales of super-sized sugary drinks. Major beverage companies, including Coke, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple, have faced increasing pressure to help reduce obesity and offer more healthful fare.
The calorie-conscious vending program is slated for national expansion after the initial rollout, according to the trade group.
"This appears to be an attempt by the industry to start an initiative -- not just to make diet and low-calorie products available -- but also to try and motivate consumers to buy and consume more diet and low-calorie products, i.e., to shift consumer behavior," wrote John Sicher, editor and publisher of trade publication Beverage Digest, in an email.
The soda vending project takes a bite out of a similar move last month by McDonald's, which said it would list calorie counts on every menu board and drive-through across the country.