March 24, 2010 / 1:36 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 2-US soft drink volume decline slows in recession

* US carbonated soft-drink volume fell 2.1 pct in ‘09

* Smallest drop since 2006

* Coke, Pepsi volume dropped, Dr Pepper Snapple up

* All but two of the top 10 brands see declines (Adds details on brands, per capita consumption)

By Martinne Geller

NEW YORK, March 24 (Reuters) - U.S. carbonated soft-drink sales volume fell 2.1 percent in 2009, its smallest decline since 2006, according to industry publication Beverage Digest, as soda’s price attracted budget-conscious consumers.

Sales volume fell to about 9.4 billion cases, similar to where it was in 1996, Beverage Digest said. Last year’s decline follows a 3 percent drop in 2008 and a 2.3 percent drop in 2007.

Volume fell less than 1 percent in 2006 and 2005 after rising for several years.

The retail dollar value of the market rose 1.6 percent to $73.9 billion last year, helped by price increases on traditional carbonated soft drinks and growth of some higher-priced drinks, such as Monster and Red Bull.

Coca-Cola Co (KO.N) and PepsiCo Inc PEP.N both saw the sales volume of their carbonated soft drinks drop last year, with market leader Coke down 3.9 percent and PepsiCo down 5 percent, Beverage Digest said.

No. 3 player Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc DPS.N saw its carbonated soft drink volume rise 4.8 percent last year, Beverage Digest said, aided by the roll-out of its Crush brand into Pepsi’s distribution system and the launch of Dr Pepper Cherry.

When it comes to colas, both Coke and Pepsi saw volume decline, though Coke retained its lead as the nation’s top-selling brand with a 17 percent share of the market. Pepsi-Cola and Diet Coke moved into a virtual tie for No. 2, Beverage Digest said, each with about a 10 percent share.

Of the nation’s top 10 brands, only two posted volume growth — Diet Dr Pepper and Diet Mt Dew, owned by PepsiCo.

Energy drinks and private label drinks performed better, with Red Bull, Hansen Natural Corp HANS.O and Cott Corp (BCB.TO) posting growth.

Beverage Digest estimates that U.S. per capita consumption fell to about 736 eight-ounce servings in 2009 from 760 in 2008. (Reporting by Martinne Geller, editing by Dave Zimmerman)

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