Rather fascinating discussion of the beverage industry from Professor Philip H. Howard of Michigan State University. He concludes there is an oligolpoly, with 3 firms controlling nearly 90% of the beverage options. This lack of competition in this industry is obscured by the apparent variety of choices. Professor Howard calls it pseudovariety – variations on themes:

“Three firms control 89% of US soft drink sales. This dominance is obscured from us by the appearance of numerous choices on retailer shelves. Steve Hannaford refers to this as “pseudovariety,” or the illusion of diversity, concealing a lack of real choice. To visualize the extent of pseudovariety in this industry we developed a cluster diagram to represent the number of soft drink brands and varieties found in the refrigerator cases of 94 Michigan retailers, along with their ownership connections.”

That 89% is broken down as follows:

- 42.8%: Coca-Cola’s 25 brands and 139 varieties;
- 31.1%: Pepsi’s 18 brands and 163 varieties;
- 15%: Dr. Pepper Snapple Group’s 20 brands and 109 varieties;

I am curious as to what % of these are junk drinks using the same cheap, unhealthy corn syrup as their sweetener, versus how many use actual cane sugar.

I find the prof’s graphic (below) bizarrely intriguing chart porn (full version here). There is also a fairly robust discussion at Hacker News.

>


chart via Philip H. Howard, Michigan State University

>

Thanks to Mike Panzner for recognizing my love of chart porn . . .

Category: Consumer Spending, Retail

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

54 Responses to ““Pseudo-variety”: Soft Drink Industry Structure”

  1. dead hobo says:

    BR outraged:

    I am curious as to what % of these are junk drinks using the same cheap, unhealthy corn syrup as their sweetener, versus how many use actual cane sugar.

    reply:
    —————-
    I don’t think a bought and paid for blubbery gut cares much about which is best. Add a little salt and a variety of delicious fats and you have orca heaven. I’ve never heard two fat guys argue about who’s jello belly is most prized because it was built using all natural ingredients. That sort of pride is rare. At least a lot of fat girls go for the diet coke to wash down the fries.

    Wikipedia notes a study that says there is little overall difference. Besides, you need HFCS to keep sugar from crystallizing in many recipes.

  2. Julia Chestnut says:

    Wow – that is some amazing chart porn. And more importantly, somebody still makes Crush? Awesome! I need me some Crush.

    Mexican Coke is still made with sugar. Oh my, it’s good. It’s kind of like drinking your childhood on ice. (Watch out for the ice in actual Mexico, of course).

  3. call me ahab says:

    I am curious as to what % of these are junk drinks using the same cheap, unhealthy corn syrup as their sweetener, versus how many use actual cane sugar.

    when you have a government that subsidizes domestic corn and puts tariffs on imported sugar is it surprising that HFCS is the favored sweetener?

    It all comes down to the bottom line. Cool chart by the way.

  4. franklin411 says:

    There’s nothing unhealthy about HFCS that isn’t also unhealthy about cane sugar. Calories are calories.

    ~~~

    BR: This is false. Fructose and Glucose are metabolized in completely different fashions.

  5. super_trooper says:

    HFCS, cane sugar or beet derived sugar. Your coke will taste a bit different. But you’ll be as likely to develop diabets or any other obesity related diseases. They will all be metabolized the same way.

    ~~~

    BR: False: Consuming fructose-sweetened, not glucose-sweetened, beverages increases visceral adiposity and lipids and decreases insulin sensitivity in overweight/obese humans See this study from American Society for Clinical Investigation

  6. Dow says:

    Steve Hannaford refers to this as “pseudovariety,” or the illusion of diversity, concealing a lack of real choice.

    That pretty much says everything there is to say about politics in America today.

  7. radioman says:

    The same is true for just about EVERY industry in America. Of ALL the varieties of soaps, detergents, toothpastes, etc., how many companies actually make them besides P&G, Colgate-Palmolive, and Unilever? How possible would it be for a new company to enter that industry? How many phone companies can you choose from besides Verizon and AT&T? How many oil companies do we have and how many companies do they actually get oil from? How many discount retailers do we have besides Walmart and Target and what happened to all the local/regional discount retailers? How many computer companies can you choose from? How many cable/satellite companies can you choose from? How many companies own ALL the movie studios and TV channels? How many own ALL the so-called “local” newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations? How many make ALL the CDs? How many actually sell ALL the CDs??? Every industry has about 2-4 companies that dominate the industry. How many book stores are there? How many drug stores are there? They all belong to about 2-3 chains.

    All the prices are the same. Is it really because of competition?

  8. WNL says:

    Same is true for the soda machine dispensers- more and more of those do not offer ‘soda water’, which I use to dilute the calories of regular soda while keeping the carbonation in my drink. I suspect it’s because the syrup manufacturers don’t want us using less syrup. They make it hard to reduce your calories even if you try.

  9. mathman says:

    i’m with radioman on this – let’s look at the mega-corps like Beatrice, et al to see who owns just about everything consumed or used on a daily basis. THAT would be interesting (not that this wasn’t, mind you).

  10. Jeff L says:

    on the corn syrup thing….that is what happens when you protect the sugar industry to the point of driving the price up to some multiple of the real price, people find alternatives. There probably would not be a U.S. sugar industry without the protection of the Congress the “industry” has bought and paid for. Heck, there probably would be less cocaine supply in the U.S….they have to grow something for a living in Central and South America. I live overseas, the soda, the candy bars etc all taste fantastic made with real sugar :).

    on the chart…the soft drink industry could probably teach the auto manufacturers a thing or two about how to do pseudovariety better and profitably.

  11. Tarkus says:

    And how much of the nation’s GDP is through the TBTF banks?

    Congress thinks all this is healthy though, especially when they get to suck at the bigger teets.

  12. zdog says:

    Abstract
    Studies in animals have documented that, compared with glucose, dietary fructose induces dyslipidemia and insulin resistance. To assess the relative effects of these dietary sugars during sustained consumption in humans, overweight and obese subjects consumed glucose- or fructose-sweetened beverages providing 25% of energy requirements for 10 weeks. Although both groups exhibited similar weight gain during the intervention, visceral adipose volume was significantly increased only in subjects consuming fructose. Fasting plasma triglyceride concentrations increased by approximately 10% during 10 weeks of glucose consumption but not after fructose consumption. In contrast, hepatic de novo lipogenesis (DNL) and the 23-hour postprandial triglyceride AUC were increased specifically during fructose consumption. Similarly, markers of altered lipid metabolism and lipoprotein remodeling, including fasting apoB, LDL, small dense LDL, oxidized LDL, and postprandial concentrations of remnant-like particle-triglyceride and -cholesterol significantly increased during fructose but not glucose consumption. In addition, fasting plasma glucose and insulin levels increased and insulin sensitivity decreased in subjects consuming fructose but not in those consuming glucose. These data suggest that dietary fructose specifically increases DNL, promotes dyslipidemia, decreases insulin sensitivity, and increases visceral adiposity in overweight/obese adults.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19381015

    ~~~

    BR: Thank you Zdog — I referenced a similar study above before I saw your comment.

  13. IMHO says:

    There is no “… illusion of diversity, concealing a lack of real choice.” Consumers are not trying to choose a “firm”, but a soft drink. So 3 firms control 89% of the sales (a trivial finding), is the level of choice available what one would normally expect from an oligopoly? Does the other 11% remain static, or are new companies forming at a fast rate and being bought up? Can’t we get a deeper analysis from a “Prof”? And soft drinks are only one of many types of drinks, and so there is further competition than the Prof identified. Besides, who drinks soft drinks? Drink beer, it has no corn syrup.

  14. wunsacon says:

    Hey, that’s how you make $2B profit on $8B revenue selling something that commoditization should’ve beaten the margins out of.
    http://finance.yahoo.com/q/is?s=KO

  15. wunsacon says:

    >> on the corn syrup thing….that is what happens when you protect the sugar industry

    Divide and conquer. To “sell” globalism to the electorate, some industries had to remain protected/anesthetized.

    The “free trade with eco-plundering, 60-hour work-week societies” idea couldn’t invade our host had serious irritation accompanied the swelling.

  16. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    I don’t see Moxie. If you ain’t got Moxie, you ain’t got jack.

  17. That’s some sweet chartporn Barry

  18. We need to start a movement for them to put blackstrap molasses in the drinks. It actually has good nutrients in it and is probably what our bodies naturally crave

  19. wunsacon says:

    >> molasses …what our bodies naturally crave

    Oh, you had to trigger this memory, didn’t you! ;-) …

    No, our bodies don’t crave molasses. We crave Brawndo, because — [gesturing with hands] — “it’s got electrolytes”.

  20. But we do crave molasses. Or at least what is in it. Our bodies do naturally need sugar and the minerals in molasses like calcium, iron and B vitamins. Without those we are always hungry and filling our faces with poor substitutes. It is called the poor man’s brain food. I should know, I eat molasses and look how poor I am

    Same with omega 3 fats. Without those potato chips are our slave masters because they don’t satisfy the ‘cravings’ so we need more

    CRAVINGS! :)

    The day I started wolfing down fish oil the pringles lost their shapely allure

    Doesn’t mean I’m skinny though

  21. Jojo says:

    Ugh. Soda is nothing more than caffeinated sugar water.

    If it wasn’t for the caffeine (an addictive drug), I wonder how much the consumption of soda would drop?

    Hey, here’s an idea! Why not add a dollop of nicotine to soda? Really lock in the consumer…

  22. call me ahab says:

    petey-

    hey dude- at least it hasn’t tipped over yet- lol

    that stick holding it up- each wood fiber hanging on for dear life lest it snap- let’s call that USG stimulus and Fed monetary policy.

  23. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    ahab:

    Exactly.

  24. some things need to be re-read:

    Dow Says: August 21st, 2010 at 11:37 am
    “…Steve Hannaford refers to this as “pseudovariety,” or the illusion of diversity, concealing a lack of real choice.

    That pretty much says everything there is to say about politics in America today.

    radioman Says: August 21st, 2010 at 11:40 am

    The same is true for just about EVERY industry in America. Of ALL the varieties of soaps, detergents, toothpastes, etc., how many companies actually make them besides P&G, Colgate-Palmolive, and Unilever? How possible would it be for a new company to enter that industry? How many phone companies can you choose from besides Verizon and AT&T? How many oil companies do we have and how many companies do they actually get oil from? How many discount retailers do we have besides Walmart and Target and what happened to all the local/regional discount retailers? How many computer companies can you choose from? How many cable/satellite companies can you choose from? How many companies own ALL the movie studios and TV channels? How many own ALL the so-called “local” newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations? How many make ALL the CDs? How many actually sell ALL the CDs??? Every industry has about 2-4 companies that dominate the industry. How many book stores are there? How many drug stores are there? They all belong to about 2-3 chains.

    All the prices are the same. Is it really because of competition?…”
    ~~
    “The same is true for just about EVERY industry in America.”
    ~~
    “Competition is a sin.” –John D Rockefeller
    http://www.saidwhat.co.uk/quotes/favourite/john_d_rockefeller/competition_is_a_sin_9253
    ~~
    re: HFCS http://search.yippy.com/search?input-form=clusty-simple&v%3Asources=webplus&v%3Aproject=clusty&query=HFCS+feeds+cancer

  25. HTCMSI,

    that’s a good point, re: Molasses and essential micronutrients..

    also, this http://search.yippy.com/search?input-form=clusty-simple&v%3Asources=webplus&v%3Aproject=clusty&query=Beverage+World+Functional+Foods

    “Functional Beverages”/”Functional Foods”/”Nutraceuticals” is (has been) a hot/growing Trend in CPG (“Consumer” Packaged Goods)-Space, for a # of years..

  26. also, much as we’ve seen in the “Beer”-space, ‘micro-breweries’, like http://www.reedsinc.com/ , are coming to Market.. add’l http://www.reedsinc.com/virgils/

    further, for “Research” purposes ONLY http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=REED DYODD~

  27. sorry, for the mult. posts..

    “Editor’s Note: The Local Option
    Written by Jeff Cioletti
    Tuesday, 03 August 2010 08:35
    I had asked him what it was that he believed was making brands of his company’s ilk so successful during such economically crippling times. And he summed it up with one word: “local.”

    The logic of that is when the whole economic world is tanking all around them, consumers are more inclined to embrace brands that are very much tied in to their immediate or, at least, regional communities. There’s an amplified sense of local pride when times are tough because local folks like to look out for each other.

    During the past few months I’ve traveled to a handful of cities for which local is a way of life: Austin, Texas, Burlington, Vt. and Portland, Ore. Those are three of the best examples of communities that are fiercely loyal to all things homegrown, especially when it comes to the brands they choose to eat and drink. (And, being in three separate time zones, they represent a cross-section of Americana.)

    Take the Texan state capital for instance. The whole “Keep Austin Weird” mantra is rooted in the population’s rejection of any carpetbagging outside influences that are trying to taint the city with the cookie-cutter blandness that has seeped into communities across the country…”
    http://www.beverageworld.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=38123&catid=34
    ~~
    “WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture set the initial 2010-11 overall domestic sugar market allotment (O.A.Q.) at 9,235,250 tons, raw value, the same as the initial 2009-10 level, and also made adjustments to arrival dates for Tariff Rate Quota (T.R.Q.) imports.

    The beet sugar share of the O.A.Q. was 5,019,358 tons (54.4%) and the cane sugar share was 4,215,892 tons (45.6%).

    In addition, for the current marketing year (2009-10) the U.S.D.A. reassigned 170,000 tons of beet sugar and 200,000 tones of cane sugar to raw cane sugar imports already expected from non-T.R.Q. sources because of expected shortfalls from domestic processors. The U.S.D.A. already had reassigned 300,000 tons of the domestic cane sugar allotment to raw sugar T.R.Q. imports on July 6.

    Further, the U.S.D.A. said it would allow 2009-10 T.R.Q. raw sugar imports to enter the United States until Oct. 30, a month past the end of the current marketing year, and it would allow 2010-11 raw sugar imports to arrive as of Sept. 1, a month before the beginning of the new marketing year.

    “These actions are in response to increased tightness in the U.S. raw sugar market,” the U.S.D.A. said.

    The U.S.D.A. announced the 2010-11 T.R.Q. level of 1,231,497 tons, raw value, on Aug. 2. The latest date change and reallocation did not change the 2009-10 T.R.Q. of 1,731,497 tons, which had previously been increased twice this year.

    The T.R.Q. and O.A.Q. levels do not include the bulk of shipments from Mexico, which can enter the United States duty free under the North American Free Trade Agreement. ”
    http://www.foodbusinessnews.net/News/News%20Home/Purchasing%20News/2010/8/USDA%20sets%20sugar%20allocations%20adjusts%20import%20dates.aspx?NewsLetter=true

  28. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    RE: Molasses/micronutrients/beverages: New product roll out:

    Garlic is also healthful. I propose we blend the two into a new soft drink* called Molassic or Garlasses. Slogan: “Fills You With Piss and Vinegar, Without Actually Filling You with Piss and Vinegar!” Or, “Your Body Will Say Mmmm, While Your Taste Buds Say, WTF!?”

    Can’t miss.

    * and chicken maranade.

  29. TakBak04 says:

    BR…Gotta say…I avoid “High Fructose” like I would a Plague! But, the alternative might be what Larry Summers should avoid. (Just trying to inject some humor, here) ALSO…I avoid all “artificial sweetners” like the Plague…because I know too many people who have had problems with them.. I read all labels, because you either get one or the other…and only if you do diligence by buying at various stores advertising themselves as “Organic” can you search to avoid both “High Fructose” and “Artificial Sweetners.” But, not all Organic Stores are good for other products. Example: Whole Foods and Eath Fair sell organic fozen veggies from CHINA! Tell me how there are “organic veggies” being grown in that most polluted of Nations? Yet…there they are. Brocolli, Green Beans, Mixed Veggies. Marked “China.”

    I also try to avoid stuff grown in Mexico…but that’s become almost impossible. If it isn’t marked “China” it’s marked “Mexico” in my ordinary Grocery Stores.

    Stick to products like Collard and Turnip Greens and a few other products that only appeal to Native American tastes if you want local and it will help out the “small farmer.”

    BTW…that damned Molasses is truly GOOD FOR YOU….if you can find a REAL SOURCE…

    ——-

    When Larry Summers Wants A Diet Coke YOU’LL KNOW
    By Barry Levin
    The latest issue of the New Yorker has a story on Larry Summers and his back-up dancers, i.e. Obama’s economic team. Obviously when we talk about Summers, we talk about two things: his predilection for Diet Coke and for sleeping during important meetings. Concerning the former, what does the president’s top adviser do when he wants somea that in his bloodstream, ASAP? When he’s at the White House there’s a dedicated team of servant boys whose sole purpose is to stand very still against the wall at the back of Summer’s office, loaded turkey basters in hand.* At the slightest cock of an eyebrow, the boys know what to do. (Tim Geithner has also been tasked with the responsibility of collecting Summers’ tissue spunk for chemists to analyze how elevated LS’s testosterone levels are and using the data to track down to the minute when he might get a hankering for a hit.)
    It’s when Summers ventures out of the comforts of the WH–his aides don’t travel with– that things get dicey. Some offices aren’t stocked with soft drinks. Some people he takes meetings with don’t know to look for facial cues. Some amateurs who maybe don’t want to see a recovery wait until it’s too late to get the big man what he needs.
    http://dealbreaker.com/2009/10/when-larry-summers-wants-a-diet-coke-youll-know/

  30. garrisongold says:

    I did some contract work for a “coke” distributor a few years back. They worked extended hours on thursday of every other week to prepare for increased anticipated sales volume at customers stores in the upcoming week. When I asked the manager, “why every other week?”, I was told that they had an understanding with the regional “pepsi” distributor to trade “sales weeks”.

    After that I noticed how pepsi and coke are never on sale at the same time, at least not in the grocery stores in this region. Coke products were on sale for one week and pepsi would be on sale the next week.

    So much for free market capitalism delivering the best product at best price through healthy competition. This was price collusion in every sense of the word.

  31. DM RTA says:

    The blogosphere is the most threatening form of competition to come along maybe ever in the world of consumer products. It provides true Choice for those willing to do the work to find it. Beverage companies can fool those so easily fooled with varieties of sweetened drinks that are too easy to pass for most people determined to shop in only one part of one store (or read labels) but, in the market for ideas, people are less easily fooled (at least in the same proportion).

    Many feel bad about the deflation caused by the supply the universe of blogs has caused but ultimately it has (and is) taking us somewhere better. (Consider many of the posts here this week that would never be found in mainstream media.) Now, also consider just how much money is being spent trying to regulate the fringes and big pieces of the market that allows competition. John D R. might have thought competition was a sin but when the next crisis comes one day, who is gonna be out there to give us an unbiased look at all the sides? My point is that you must support competition when you find it as well as the important (often subtle) ideas that support competition being available.

  32. TakBak04 says:

    Note to: DM RTA …..

    ——-
    You and others here on this thread might be interested in reading the reviews and watching the VIDEO posted at AMAZON about this book, because it’s really interesting about our Economy of Destruction:

    Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction [Hardcover]
    Barry C. Lynn
    Barry C. Lynn (Author)
    › Visit Amazon’s Barry C. Lynn Page
    Find all the books, read about the author, and more.
    See search results for this author
    Are you an author? Learn about Author Central
    (Author)

    http://www.amazon.com/Cornered-Monopoly-Capitalism-Economics-Destruction/dp/0470186380

  33. obsvr-1 says:

    certainly eye opening — I just had to wonder Where’s the FTC ?

    Thank God for micro-breweries and the fact that these sugar-water oligarchs haven’t polluted them (yet ….)
    Time for a beer.

  34. TakBak04 says:

    @Julia Chestnut Says:
    August 21st, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Wow – that is some amazing chart porn. And more importantly, somebody still makes Crush? Awesome! I need me some Crush.

    ——–

    “Orange Crush!” that was some good stuff…I never thought back then to look at the label to see what was in it, though.

    I didn’t know it was still made, either. I bet it doesn’t taste the same, though! lol’s….blast from the past.

  35. ElvisP says:

    Orange Crush Fans: take a sip of Thomas Kemper ‘Blood Orange’ soda (cane sugar) and never look back!

  36. Andy T says:

    Glad to see RC Cola out there. Didn’t realize it was a sub of DrPepper.

    That’s all I drank when I was a kid….

  37. Except for the HFCS, which is, as has been pointed out, a product of government protection of the domestic sugar industry (if only we could buy Cuban sugar, our soft drinks would taste so much better), did it occur to anyone that perhaps the reason for the apparent oligopoly is that having two or three market participants in this little corner of the world is the most efficient of all possible outcomes?

    The government doesn’t really get too involved in (at least up to now) in deciding who sells soft drinks and other beverages (e.g., water, sports drinks, snapple, etc.). Perhaps there are economies of scale available that have pushed beverage distribution to its “psuedovariety” of providers. Just because there is market concentration does not necessarily mean there is a) market collusion, or b) that there isn’t competitive variety. In a mass economy such as ours, it would be surprising to see very many industries not dominated by a few firms. McDonald’s didn’t use the government to build its empire. It did it by doing well at what it did. This is how capitalism is supposed to work, and I might add, is a far sight better than if the government were to decree which companies could provide our french fries.

    And even if there are only a few companies controlling the market, does not mean the consumer lacks choices. Go to any convenience store/gas station in your neighborhood and you will find more beverage choices than our recent ancestors could ever have contemplated–enough to leave a Chinese peasant bewildered and running away back to the rice paddies.

    No. This “pseudovariety” is not worthy of concern. A lot of things don’t work well economically in this country, but the retail distribution system for food and beverages is not among them. They stand as proof positive of the beneficial effects market competition has in delivering goods to the consumers. Would that the completely-queered up housing market were so efficient. Guess in which industry the government meddles more?

    ~~~

    BR: Blame Nixon fro HFCS !

  38. ronin says:

    Everytime I go to S.E. Asia, I drink Coke because it’s made with good ole fashion sugarcane. The taste is truly different when made with sugarcane–much more of a bite to it!

  39. thales says:

    “Abstract
    Studies in animals have documented that, compared with glucose, dietary fructose induces dyslipidemia and insulin resistance. To assess the relative effects of these dietary sugars during sustained consumption in humans, overweight and obese subjects consumed glucose- or fructose-sweetened beverages providing 25% of energy requirements for 10 weeks. Although both groups exhibited similar weight gain during the intervention, visceral adipose volume was significantly increased only in subjects consuming fructose. Fasting plasma triglyceride concentrations increased by approximately 10% during 10 weeks of glucose consumption but not after fructose consumption. In contrast, hepatic de novo lipogenesis (DNL) and the 23-hour postprandial triglyceride AUC were increased specifically during fructose consumption. Similarly, markers of altered lipid metabolism and lipoprotein remodeling, including fasting apoB, LDL, small dense LDL, oxidized LDL, and postprandial concentrations of remnant-like particle-triglyceride and -cholesterol significantly increased during fructose but not glucose consumption. In addition, fasting plasma glucose and insulin levels increased and insulin sensitivity decreased in subjects consuming fructose but not in those consuming glucose. These data suggest that dietary fructose specifically increases DNL, promotes dyslipidemia, decreases insulin sensitivity, and increases visceral adiposity in overweight/obese adults.”

    Wow, that fructose stuff sounds terrible! Thanks for the warning. I guess I better stay away from that dangerous High Fructose Corn Syrup. Honey and fruit, too. They have lots of fructose.

    Oh yeah; better swear off cane and beet sugar as well. They are nearly pure sucrose, a disaccharide containing about 50% fructose.

    Yours in food faddism….

  40. Dow says:

    This “pseudovariety” is not worthy of concern.

    So much for innovation.

    What remains of capitalism once it becomes a series of monopolies? And how does that in any way differ from an industry controlled by a centralized government? Same players, just moving around to the other side of the table.

  41. Dow says:

    A lot of things don’t work well economically in this country, but the retail distribution system for food and beverages is not among them.

    One word: eggs.

  42. @MEH,

    From one of your search links on functional foods:

    In 2006, the functional beverage per capita consumption have risen to 66.4 gallons, while the carbonated soft drink sector has a decline in their per capita consumption to 50.4 gallons (192.5 gallons was the average per capita conusmption in 2006).

    So we are making choices……and in the right direction….when we get them.

    Looks like the ‘sheep’ aren’t as stupid as we thought, they are just well herded. No wonder the ivory tower boys are so fearful and paranoid. Even the cattle know not to eat the GMO food

    On another point: I’m wondering how many of those 192.5 gallons were over consumption due to unsatisfied natural appetite? One of my focuses when taking on weight loss/control is to start with feeding my natural appetite first. The sugars, fats and proteins that our bodies need to function on a basic level. Once we do that the body doesn’t try to compensate with junk that mimics what we need (like HFCS) but does not satisfy

  43. “A lot of things don’t work well economically in this country, but the retail distribution system for food and beverages is not among them.

    One word: eggs.”

    Really? A carton of eggs costs 99 cents at my local grocery. It would take someone making minimum wage approximately eight and a half minutes to earn enough money to buy a carton of eggs–more than enough calories for themselves for one day. Your example illustrates my point nearly perfectly.

    But I know. You are referring to the salmonella scare. What, I wonder would be your prescription? Mandated inefficiency? Let the chickens free to roam around and lay eggs wherever so we could have a perpetual egg hunt? Occasional outbreaks of disease are a fact of life, and have been ever since the rise of agriculture and civilization. Going back to hunting and gathering could help prevent such outbreaks, but it’d be kinda hard now, what w/ 6.5 billion people roaming around. We’d have to hunt and gather each other.

  44. wunsacon says:

    >> A lot of things don’t work well economically in this country, but the retail distribution system for food and beverages is not among them.

    Maybe food is okay. But, Coke’s margins look monopolistic to me.

  45. jwagner says:

    As thales notes, there is essentially no difference between sucrose and HFCS. In his 1-1/2 hour youtube hosted tirade against sugar, Dr. Robert Lustig at UCSF explains how glucose and fructose are metabolised, and why fructose is bad for you. (and why fruit is OK). If you want to get a handle on the sugar and health, it’s worth the time.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

    And just to make sure I piss on everyone’s parade, Aspartame has been implicated in brain tumors and is something you probably want to avoid as well.

    Jim

    ~~~

    BR: Awesome Jim, I am going to post the Lustig video separately.

  46. Jeff L says:

    coke and pepsi…essentially sugar water costs more than gasoline…even when gas is taxed at about 25%…

  47. PrahaPartizan says:

    I’m surprised that Polar Beverages in Worcester, MA didn’t appear in this listing. It’s supposed to be the largest independent soft-drink bottler in the US.

  48. ToNYC says:

    By ALWAYS choosing the less-processed food option, HFCS will go away sure as the trolleys went away with the crude oil powered personal motor vehicles. You choose and/or you lose.

  49. [...] to our soda post (“Pseudo-variety”: Soft Drink Industry Structure) JWagner points us to this video from Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the [...]

  50. Dow says:

    Food networks are easier to secure and protect when they are small, regional and localized. Large, centralized food distribution means that one small weakness – in this case salmonella – can spread through the network at a rapid speed. This applies to crops, feed, distribution, packaging, shipping, etc.

    You can repeat this same principal with just about anything including national security. Congregate military forces in one massive super base, and an adversary could knock out a country’s defenses with one well-coordinated attack.

  51. bm says:

    @Gary says:

    “Check out

    Good Calories, Bad Calories”

    Another book to consider is “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan. You will then see just how powerful the food industry is and how much lobbying it does for what information is actually given to the consumer.

  52. kaleberg says:

    The free market competition is for shelf space in supermarkets. My guess is that supermarkets actually sell soft drinks at a loss, but make up for it by charging for shelf space, extra for corners and aisle ends and so on. If a third party wants to introduce a new drink, they either have to buy shelf space, which can be rather pricey for a start up, or generating a much higher profit margin for the stores. Even then, one of the big outfits might just buy out any upstart and shut it down, rather than competing on the merits. That’s what happened with Soho sodas. Yes, the business is quite competitive. It’s just that the customers are a product, not one of the active economic agents.