Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, Pepsi-Cola Made with Real Sugar remains challenging to find. I haven’t seen 12 oz. cans in any grocery store since 3Q 2021 and plastic bottles since 2020. The 7.5 oz cans have occasionally disappeared form shelves as well.
PepsiCo’s official messaging is non-specific and has not been updated since 2020:
With more people staying at home, we’ve seen an increased demand for many of our beverages. We know that you may be having trouble finding some of our products and we are diligently working to ensure our production and inventory keep pace with the heightened demand. If you’re experiencing this problem, we regret that we’re unable to confirm when a specific product will be back on shelves near you.Why is it so difficult to find my favorite flavor of Pepsi in my area?
Pepsi-Cola Made with Real Sugar in 12 oz. cans disappeared in 2020 as well before reappearing in summer 2021. That was short-lived though, maybe 3 months of availability.
PepsiCo is light on specifics, though the oft-mentioned “supply chain” challenges seems to be a reasonable catch-all.
- Aluminum shortages – there are not a lot of aluminum cans to go round right now (Wine Enthusiast). Craft beer is getting hit hard. It’s also one of the reasons why some brewers switched to stickers for labels. You should remove those when you recycle too.
- As with other products, the pandemic shifted business from “institutional” to consumer. Instead of shipping out boxes of syrup to food service, beverage makers had to pivot to individuals. We’re still in between the two extremes and probably will be for some time. Omicron isn’t helping.
- Labor – Is Pepsi finding enough people to work at current compensation levels?
This is mostly speculation, though I welcome mass media to provide a well-researched look at this issue. I’ll share it if I see it.
Pepsi-Cola Made with Real Sugar history
- 2009 – In what may have been an answer to “Mexi-Coke” Pepsi Throwback, sweetened with refined sugar instead of corn syrup, debuted
- 2010 – Pepsi Throwback returned for the winter with 1980s-style branding
- 2011 – Pepsi Throwback becomes a permanent part of the product line
- 2014 – Brand changed to Pepsi-Cola Made with Real Sugar
- 2019 – Branding changed again, name remains
- For all of the posting about gin and tonics, craft beer and even Pimms Cups, I drink more Pepsi than any of them. I try to limit myself to a pint a day.
- Changing the real sugar Pepsi branding several times is confusing. I could keep up with it, because I was motivated. Somebody who isn’t as motivated to keep up, well maybe not.
- From time to time, I would see sugar-flavored Pepsi in classic bottles without special branding. Carolina Brothers BBQ in Ashburn used to sell it pre-pandemic. I also saw Mexican Pepsi.
- My political economy of communications professor, the late great, Dr. Ronald V. Bettig (Anthony Olorunnisola, The Collegian), argued that “you are drinking the packaging.”
That’s probably more accurate than we may want to admit. After all, Pepsi traditionally beat Coca-Cola in blind taste tests. New Coke also beat out the original Coke too.
- Pepsi won the battle of the Cola Wars, but Coke won the war (Juicebox Interactive). Diet Coke is now more popular than Pepsi (Newsweek).
- My advertising professor, the late great Wayne Hilinski, used to say, with all the solemnity the term implied, that he was a “veteran of the cola wars.”
- “Pepsi State” – speaking of the alma mater, Penn State’s current agreement with PepsiCo appears to expire this year. The relationship dates back to 1992.
- Why does New York get its own Pepsi cans? is my second most visited blog post over the last ten years.
- At least we can get mango-flavored Pepsi right now?