Available as either a floor standing or a counter-top version, the machine won’t dispense Pepsi, Gatorade or any of the US beverage company’s other well-known brands.
Instead, users pick from a variety of non-branded flavours such as lemon mint and raspberry lime, and customise the sweetness, sugar content, carbonation level and temperature. They can also choose straight filtered water.
The machine seems to build on the principles of SodaStream, the home carbonation product that PepsiCo acquired in August 2018 for US$3.2 billion (£2.5 billion).
It shows PepsiCo responding to two trends: the rise in environmental awareness that is expected to drive consumers away from single-use plastic, and the uptick in health consciousness that has seen fizzy-drink sales drop.
By volume, sales of Pepsi declined by 4.5 per cent and Coke by two per cent in the US in 2017, according to statistics from Beverage Digest.
PepsiCo has a “Beyond the Bottle” strategy in place to address these trends, and the new machine, which comes in countertop and freestanding models, is one facet of that.
“We’ve addressed a number of trends we’re seeing resonate with consumers, including the increasing concern for the environment, preference for refillable bottles over single-use plastics, and finally choice and personalisation whenever possible,” said PepsiCo Foodservice chief marketing officer Scott Finlow.
The drinks dispenser is designed to work with a QR code sticker that registered users place on their own reusable bottles so that they can be recognised.
There is also an accompanying app, which informs users of their water intake and the number of single-use plastic bottles they’ve saved by refilling at the dispenser. It can also nudge users to hydrate.
The company will launch the platform at workplaces, schools and hospitality partners to begin with, but the QR code system suggests the machine could work in more public places in the future.
Pepsi is not alone among beverage companies trying to reduce their reliance on single-use plastic. Evian has just released its take on the water dispenser, which features a soft bubble top that is said to use 66 per cent less plastic than a 1.5-litre bottle.