There is no debate: your sugar intake is in your hands. And Panera wants to show you just how true that is.
The casual sandwich-salad chain is debuting its "sweet facts cup," which will prominently display calories and sugar content on nearly every beverage served at the restaurant. This includes any amount of sugar and calories in fountain drinks, too.
Panera's new 20-ounce plastic cup will debut across the U.S., including major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Charlotte, North Carolina, Dallas, Atlanta and St. Louis beginning this week, according to Sara Burnett, Panera's director of wellness and food policy.
In keeping with transparency, Panera will be joining the rise to inform consumers of nutritional information on its menu and beverage items to help consumers make better food choices.
Research on whether posting this information helps consumers make healthier choices remains inconclusive. Bruce Lee, director of Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health, revealed to USA Today that "people already attuned looked for [the nutritional information] and were already aware this drink is high in calories or they would've opted for water." However, Lee pointed out that "if you print calories all over the place, it might have the effect of people paying more attention" which may, in turn, help consumers make mindful decisions about their eating habits.
Let's take a closer look at the nutritional information of a regular cola. At 250 calories per serving, you are also chasing that sandwich or salad with a little over 17 grams of sugar. And the popular Blood Orange Lemonade hits you with 160 calories and eight teaspoons of sugar. Those are the not-so-sweet facts.
But, with the combination of transparent nutritional information and healthier beverage options, Panera's CEO Ron Shaich says, "We're seeing our guests begin to trade from fountain soft drinks to our new clean beverages."
Who knows … this could be the sweet spot to a healthier, more mindful consumer.