Pepsi Next on Launch Pad

Mid-calorie soda to roll out nationally in early spring 2012

PURCHASE, N.Y. -- PepsiCo Inc. will roll out its new mid-calorie soda "Pepsi Next" nationally early next spring, according to a report by the Associated Press. The company said in June that it would be testing the lower-sugar and lower-calorie soda in Iowa and Wisconsin.

PepsiCo said Wednesday that testing results exceeded its expectations and it plans to begin selling the product nationally at the beginning of its second fiscal quarter.

Beverage makers are eager to find a mid-calorie soda that consumers like as it could help stimulate soda sales, which have been hurt by consumer concerns over excessive sugar and calories, said the news agency. Drink makers have struggled to find a taste that has resonated with consumers.

Pepsi Next has 60% fewer calories than regular Pepsi, with 40 calories per 8-ounce serving and 60 calories per 12-ounce serving.

A PepsiCo spokesperson declined to comment further on details of the product or its marketing plans until closer to the launch.

But Beverage Digest, an industry publication that first reported the national plans, said that the company will sell it in several product sizes and that the company said the product has potential for growth beyond the United States.

Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo offers the world's largest portfolio of food and beverage brands, including Frito-Lay, Quaker, Pepsi-Cola, Tropicana and Gatorade.