Fizzy soft drink sales decline for 8th straight year in 2012

Americans’ consumption of fizzy soft drinks, on the decline since 2005, fell last year to its lowest level since 1996. If it weren’t for increasingly popular energy drinks like Monster and Red Bull, the decline would have been worse.

The declines come amid heavy attention on soda’s role in obesity and related health problems. Most prominently, the city of New York tried to cap the sizes of high-calorie drinks, though that effort was struck down by a judge earlier this month.

The figures come from Beverage Digest, an industry newsletter that publishes a similar report every March.

The trade journal also found that the pace of decline for carbonated beverages has sped up. Sales volume fell 1.2 per cent last year, compared with a 1 per cent drop in 2011 and a 0.5 per cent drop in 2010. Without energy drinks, volume would have fallen 1.7 per cent.

A 3 per cent soda price hike helped revenue rise 1.8 per cent to $77.1 billion.

Despite the decline, carbonated soft drinks still make up the biggest category of nonalcoholic beverages.

Total drink sales rose 1 per cent to 15.4 billion cases. Fizzy soft drink sales amounted to 9.2 billion of those cases. Consumers are increasingly drinking more bottled water, tea and energy drinks.

The fastest-growing brands by volume were Monster, up 19.1 per cent; Red Bull, up 17 per cent; Dasani, up 9.1 per cent; Rockstar, up 8 per cent; Fanta, up 7 per cent; and Arizona, up 6.2 per cent.

The changes in behaviour haven’t changed who the dominant drink makers are, however.

The Coca-Cola Co., which owns Dasani and Powerade, saw its share of the beverage market steady at 34 per cent, while the share of PepsiCo Inc., which owns Gatorade and SoBe, slid 0.6 percentage points to 26.3.

Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc., behind A&W root beer and Deja Blue, saw its share fall 0.1 points to 11 per cent, while Nestle Waters, behind Perrier and Arrowhead, added 0.3 points to 10.2.

Beverage Digest doesn’t track the volume sold of juices such as Tropicana or Minute Maid.