This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on January 22, 2014.
You often hear about people cutting calories to fight obesity, but this time, it’s corporations that are doing the cutting. Sixteen of America’s biggest food makers joined forces and have removed 6.4 trillion calories from the U.S. marketplace in less than two years.
The industry giants, including Kraft and Nestle, General Mills and Kellogg, Campbell Soup, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Hershey, banded together in 2009 and started the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation.
In 2010, they pledged they would collectively sell 1 trillion fewer calories in 2012 than they sold in 2007. The food makers said they would do it by developing new low-cal products or changing existing products’ portioning so packages contained fewer calories.
By 2015, they planned to sell 1.5 trillion fewer calories, but they have outdone themselves. Researchers at the University of North Carolina tabulated the calories sold in 2012 and revealed the companies had already surpassed their 2015 goal many times over.
Whether the big calorie cut will make an impact on Americans’ health or obesity levels remains to be seen, but for now, consumer demand for the low-cal products is high, and the American Heart Association applauds the campaign, calling it a “positive step forward.”
These numbers give the lowdown on low-cal.
The amount by which the 16 companies have exceeded their pledge to remove 1.5 trillion calories from the U.S. marketplace by 2015.
The number of calories the 16 companies sold in 2012, compared with 60.4 trillion sold in 2007.
The percentage of all packaged-food calories the 16 companies produced for U.S. markets in 2007. These calories came in the form of cereals, snacks, canned soups and bottled beverages, to name a few.
The decrease in calories per American, per day, when the 6.4 trillion saved calories are divided evenly among the population.