Soda Sales Slip Again

March 25/Atlanta/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution --  Sales of carbonated soft drinks declined in the U.S. in 2009, continuing a five-year slide that has seen consumption fall to 1996 levels. The volume of the U.S. soda business declined 2.1% last year, a slight improvement from a 3% decline in 2008 but underscoring a rough year for the U.S. drinks business, which has been smacked by the recession and shopper's desire to buy cheaper drinks.

The total "refreshment beverage" segment, which includes colas, energy and sports drinks, bottled water and juices, shrank by 3.1% in 2009, the second consecutive year of declining volume and a more intense drop than the year before.

Ready-to-drink teas and energy drinks posted slight increases last year, according to Beverage Marketing Corp., but that was not nearly enough to cancel out the declines of the much larger soft drink category, as well as declines in bottled water and a rare drop in sports drinks.

Price increases for soda and the growth of some higher-priced energy drinks such as Red Bull and Monster helped dollar sales to rise 1.6% to nearly $74 billion last year.

Full-calorie sodas are hampered by concerns over health and obesity. The two biggest cola brands, full-calorie Coke and Pepsi, dropped by 4% and 5.5%, respectively. Diet Coke and the full-calorie Pepsi brand are now in a tie for second place in the U.S., each with about 10% of the soft drinks market. Regular Coca-Cola remains the biggest brand, with about 17% of the category.

PepsiCo's Diet Mountain Dew and Diet Dr Pepper from Dr Pepper Snapple Group were the only top-10 soda brands that increased sales volumes in 2009.

Companywide, Coca-Cola posted a 3.9% volume decline, while PepsiCo's soft drinks fell 5%. The third-place player, Dr Pepper Snapple, grew by 4.8% on the strength of the growth of Crush orange soda and the launch of Dr Pepper Cherry.  

From the March 29, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition