March 20/Atlanta/Reuters -- U.S. carbonated soft drink consumption fell faster last year, as strength in energy drinks failed to offset weakness in traditional sodas from Coca-Cola Co and PepsiCo Inc.

Total sales volume of soda fell about 1% in 2011 to 9.27 billion cases, about the same level it was in 1996. Sales volume fell 0.5% in 2010. Excluding energy drinks such as Red Bull and Rockstar, soda volume was down 1.5% last year.

Soda sales in the U.S. grew about 3% annually throughout most of the 1990s but began to slow in 1999. Sales have been in decline since 2005, as increasingly health-conscious consumers turn to options they see as healthier, such as bottled water, juice and tea.

Americans on average drank 714 8oz. servings of carbonated soft drinks last year, down from 728 in 2010, the lowest since 1987.

At retail, revenue rose about 2% to $75.7 billion. Prices were up about 3% last year, as manufacturers sought to pass through some of the increase in costs of raw materials including corn syrup, used as a sweetener. Those price increases likely contributed to the volume weakness.

Including bottled waters, juice drinks, teas and sports drinks, bottled beverage sales rose 0.8% to 15.2 billion cases in 2011. That represented a slowdown from 2010, when sales rose 1.7%.

According to separate data released from Beverage Marketing Corp, premium-priced drinks such as bottled tea and coffee, sports drinks and energy drinks performed well in 2011.

Still, the research, consulting and financial services firm said the economy had an impact.

"Higher prices did almost certainly contribute to 2011's deceleration as lower-income consumers continued to struggle," the company said.

The top four sodas -- Coke, Diet Coke, Pepsi-Cola and Mt. Dew -- all saw declining sales last year. Of those, Coke's market share was flat, while the other three all lost share.

Including all bottled drinks, Coca-Cola Co cornered 34% of the market, followed by PepsiCo with nearly 27%, Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc with 11%, and Nestle Waters North America with about 10%.

 From the March 20, 2012, Prepared Foods' Daily News.