Panera announced plans today to extend its “clean” food philosophy to its self-serve beverages… sort of. The chain will post calorie and added sugars information on all of its drinks, including soda fountains, perhaps encouraging customers to try a new line of iced teas and lemonades that will launch next week instead.
This announcement comes after the chain’s war of words over whose food is the “cleanest” of them all with quick-serve rival Chipotle. Both chains emphasize the absence of artificial food additives and genetically modified ingredients in their food, but have standard soda fountains that dispense fizzy beverages loaded with artificial colors and flavors and high fructose corn syrup made from conventionally grown corn. Both chains also offer iced tea and water as an alternative to HFCS-sweetened soft drinks.
Today, though, Panera announced that its new line of “clean” beverages will start to launch next week, reaching all stores nationwide by September. It features beverages with no added sugars, like the existing plain iced tea, and beverages that are “lightly sweetened” or that have alternative sweeteners like agave syrup. All have 35 grams or less of added sugar, though drinks that get all or some of their sweetness from fruit juices don’t count as having “added” sweeteners.
The new lineup announced today includes:
• Iced Black Tea
• Plum Ginger Hibiscus Tea
• Prickly Pear Hibiscus Fresca
• Passion Papaya Green Tea
• Blood Orange Lemonade
• Agave Lemonade
“With up to 75 grams of sugar — just one 20 oz. soft drink contains more than the recommended daily amount of added sugar,” Panera CEO Shaich said in a statement. “While we won’t tell people what they should drink, we want to provide real options and real transparency — and we’re challenging the industry to join us.”