Soda sales are down in the United States to their lowest levels since 1995, according to new figures.
Students around the world have often relied on their favourite fizzy drinks to get them through long study sessions and late-night essays. But it seems that sales of some of the world’s most popular products are still on the decline.
According to a special report from industry paper Beverage Digest, total sales of carbonated soft drinks (CSD) in the US fell by three per cent in 2013 compared to the previous year, meaning around 8.9 billion cases were sold across the year. This meant that sales volumes were at their lowest last year since 1995.
That’s a much faster fall than has been reported in previous years, but the rate of decline has been accelerating since at least 2011 – a fall of one per cent in that year was followed by a 1.2 per cent drop in 2012. Overall, the downward trend has been ongoing for the best part of a decade, with sales volumes having decreased steadily since 2005.
But probably the biggest loser is the diet soda category, with virtually all the major diet drinks such as Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, and Diet Mt. Dew all lagging considerably behind their standard alternatives in spite of a growing awareness of healthy diets in the US.
This is the question which has puzzled many commentators. It would make sense to see diet brands growing as their full-fat alternatives decline, or even to see both categories falling at a similar rate. Yet diet labels are failing to attract shoppers with their promise of a healthy alternative. Even the large bottled water product category failed to perform as strongly as the previous year.
So what has caused the decline? The Wall Street Journal points out that many consumers are increasingly concerned that chemicals such as aspartame and the other artificial sweeteners that stand in for sugar in diet drinks are unhealthy, even though research suggests they are perfectly safe.
Still, it’s also true that diet drinks have more competition. Consumers seeking out sugary treats are likely to opt for traditional sodas. But those looking for healthier choices can also turn to a range of flavoured waters, smoothies and other products. Where bottled water is losing ground, it’s quite possible that environmental concerns are prompting many shoppers to refill an existing bottle from the tap. In any case, drinks companies have a task on their hands to lure consumers back
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