(Adds details on sales by brand, byline)
By Phil Wahba
NEW YORK, March 31 Americans cut back on
drinking carbonated soft drinks again last year with soda sales
reaching their lowest levels in nearly two decades, according to
a leading beverage industry newsletter.
Total sales volume fell 3 percent in 2013 to 8.9 billion
cases, the ninth straight year of decline and the lowest since
1995, according to Beverage Digest. Soda sales fell 1.2 percent
in 2012 and 1 percent in 2011. Each case is equal to 192 liquid
Soda sales in the United States grew throughout most of the
1990s, before beginning to slow in 1999. Sales have been in
decline since 2005. (Graphic: link.reuters.com/sez97v)
Industry critics have pointed to the soda industry as
contributing to the U.S. obesity epidemic, and growing health
concerns among consumers have hurt sales, experts said.
"The beverage industry is getting more and more challenging
in the U.S. The obesity and health and wellness headwinds are
not letting up," Beverage Digest Editor John Sicher said, adding
that sales of diet sodas have been hit by worries about the
healthfulness of artificial sweeteners.
By company, Coca-Cola Co's share of the U.S. soft
drinks market rose 0.4 percentage points, while PepsiCo Inc's
market share shrank by the same percentage, slammed by a
4.4 percent decline in its soda sales volume, or twice the rate
of Coca-Cola's drop, according to Beverage Digest.
Adding to the industry's concerns, the growth of bottled
water sales has slowed.
One Coca-Cola brand, Coke Zero, edged into the top 10 soda
brands, replacing Diet Dr. Pepper. Of all the top soda brands,
only Sprite saw sales gains last year. Coke and Diet Coke were
the 2 top selling brands last year, followed by Pepsi and
PepsiCo's Mt. Dew.
If not for the fast-growing sales of energy drinks such as
Red Bull and Monster Beverage Corp products, soda
volume would have fallen 3.3 percent last year. Monster's sales
volume was up 7.7 percent in 2013.
(Reporting by Phil Wahba in New York; Editing by David Gregorio
and Lisa Shumaker)