Wyoming Sugar, Pepsi partner
Worland – A pair of ongoing promotional items marketed by Pepsi features sugar from Wyoming Sugar and Big Horn Basin beet growers as its star ingredient.
According to Admiral Beverages Inc. Vice President Ed Hunter, the beverages Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback are the result of Pepsi’s desire to return to a nostalgic feel. Admiral Beverages is the franchise that manufactures and packages Pepsi products in the Worland factory.
“In the old days we always used sugar in our sodas, so the idea with these brands was to use sugar, either in bulk or liquid,” says Hunter, noting the sugar replaces today’s usual high fructose corn syrup. “That goes along with the nostalgic graphics we’re using on the packaging.”
Admiral Beverages oversees two production facilities – the one in Worland and one in Ogden, Utah. The Utah location has used liquid sugar to make their Throwback varieties, while the Worland facility has contracted with Wyoming Sugar for sugar in bulk.
“In Worland we’re fortunate to have our own sugar company, Wyoming Sugar,” says Hunter. “The beet farmers here produce the sugar, and we buy directly from the co-op.”
Hunter says there’s been a great partnership between the two entities. “It’s local business helping local business,” he says, adding. “The reception from farmers has been fantastic, as well as from the organizations associated with the production and distribution of sugar.”
However good the reception has been, the Throwback series is only an eight-week offer that began in the beginning of June. “It remains to be seen whether we’ll carry it on,” says Hunter.
Factoring into the decision to make more Throwback is the increased labor necessary to use bulk sugar. “It’s a little bit of a different concentrate in the formula, and it’s more difficult for us to produce because we buy the bulk sugar in large totes, which we put on forklifts that raise them to the top of the tanks and pour them in,” says Hunter. “The addition of high fructose corn syrup is built into the system. The extra labor costs go with the commitment to use regular sugar.”
Hunter says Throwback can be purchased at grocery stores around Wyoming, and also throughout the U.S. “Some locations have sold out of what they produced, but we haven’t because we bought more raw materials, feeling that this product would go well in Wyoming given the partnership,” he says.
Although the promotional is intended to run through July, Hunter says it’ll remain available as long as there is product left.
“We’re looking into continuing the Throwback line, but there are a lot of things that relies on,” says Hunter, noting, “It costs us more to make it, and we can’t sell it for more, because consumers typically won’t pay more for a sugar-based versus high fructose corn syrup-based product,” he says.
Hunter says the sugar aspect of the brand has been advertised both nationally and locally. “We’re advertising that it’s not only sugar, but it’s Wyoming sugar. We’re sensitive to promote the Wyoming farmers, and we want to make sure Wyoming gets as much of the credit as we can possibly give them.”
“I wouldn’t say Pepsi will never do a sugar-based product again,” says Hunter. “Pepsi does a lot of innovative and creative brands and products, and you never know when they’ll come back to something similar.”
Of the Worland location, Hunter says the franchise now touches seven states and chooses to keep its headquarters in Worland. “We make every Pepsi product here, including all trademark Pepsi and Mountain Dew brands,” he says, noting the facility also produces 7-Up, Dr. Pepper, Snapple, A&W, Sunkist and Hawaiian Punch, among others. “We can’t live on one brand alone – we diversify with as many different things as we can.”
The Worland plant also bottles its own Aquavista water. “That’s a big deal for us,” says Hunter. “The water comes from an artesian well coming from an aquifer in the Ten Sleep area. It’s a big seller for us.”
Aquavista water is sold wherever Pepsi is sold, and Admiral Beverages also supplies bottled water to things like firefighting crews.
“It’s a pretty exciting thing,” says Hunter of the Throwback partnership. “The beet growers are excited about it, and it’s been selling well. Everywhere we go we can see a beet grower with a Throwback in his hand.”
Christy Hemken is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at email@example.com.