Today in the Fortune 500: Target, Wal-Mart pressure Amazon on taxes, Pepsi loses out to Diet Coke and pushes dips abroad

March 17, 2011: 10:18 AM ET
The current Diet Coke logo was adopted in 2007.

Image via Wikipedia

TheĀ Fortune 500 comes out just once a year, but the companies on it make headlines every day. Here then are today's highlights of news and happenings coming from the biggest names in business.

By Shelley DuBois, reporter

PAY UP The campaign to make Amazon collect sales taxes is growing stronger. Big-name stores including Target (TGT), Best Buy (BBY), Home Depot (HD), Wal-Mart (WMT) and Sears Holdings (SHLD) are joining a group called the Alliance for Main Street Fairness--a small, Virginia-based organization that is lobbying to change the laws in states that exempt online stores from collecting sales taxes. Besides major retailers, state governments are putting pressure on (AMZN) too, feeling the crunch from inadequate budgets. [Wall Street Journal]

COCA-COLA DOMINATES the number one and two carbonated soda spots in the country. Coke (KO) holds the number one spot with its regular soda, but now, for the first time, Diet Coke has ousted Pepsi-Cola from its number two position. Pepsi took an advertising risk in 2010, when it opted out of traditional Super Bowl ads, and instead launched its online charitable giving Refresh Project. Pepsi (PEP) says the project will help with brand strength in the long run. [Wall Street Journal]

BUT PEPSI PLANS TO GET HEALTHIER by forming a joint venture with Israeli food and beverage company Strauss Group Ltd. to make dips and spreads that will be sold outside of North America. The deal falls under Pepsi's new global nutrition segment. Pepsi hopes global nutrition will pull in $30 billion in revenue by 2020, up from the $10 billion it earned in 2010. [Wall Street Journal]

DITCH THE BABY FOOD Pfizer's (PFE) investors are pressuring the company to get rid of its nutrition division that makes baby food and formula, predicting that it would rake in $6.8 billion. Investors are looking at a similar spin-off from Bristol-Myers Squibb as an example--the pharma company took its baby-formula arm public in 2009, which is now doing excellently on the market, as is Bristol-Myers. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

BANK OF AMERICA UPS ACCESS TO INDIA by adding Mukesh Ambani, billionaire and chairman of refining complex Reliance Industries to its board. Ambani is the wealthiest person in India, and could help Bank of America (BAC) navigate regulation in the country. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

COMMODITIES CRUNCH PUSHES PLANT PROTEIN Companies including Dupont (DD) and AMD (AMD) are going to be pumping out more products made from soy proteins. A growing middle class in countries such as China and India are demanding more protein-rich products, but meat and dairy protein is growing more expensive for manufacturers. The entire global $100 billion protein market is growing, according to a Dupont executive, who said that soybean protein will double its market share in the next 5 years. [Reuters]

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