Soda Consumption Down to Levels Last Seen 1996

While Volume Is Down, Retail Sales Are Up

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Consumers are swilling less soda, leading the category to decline for the eighth straight year.

Top Ten Soda Brands 2012
Brand Share Change
Coke 17 Flat
Diet Coke 9.4 -0.2
Pepsi 8.9 -0.3
Mountain Dew 6.8 +0.1
Dr Pepper 6.5 +0.1
Sprite 5.7 Flat
Diet Pepsi 4.7 -0.2
Diet Mountain Dew 2.1 +0.1
Fanta 2.0 +0.1
Diet Dr Pepper 1.8 Flat

The amount of soda consumed declined 1.2% in 2012 -- down to 1996 levels, with per capita consumption in the U.S. falling to 1987 levels. Still, the major brands increased pricing, leading to a 1.8% rise in retail sales. According to Beverage Digest, the category, which includes energy drinks is worth about $77 billion.

Soda consumption was steady throughout the 1990s, rising about 3% per year, before slowing in 1999. The category has been in decline since 2005.

The category has been under siege, particularly in recent months. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was set to ban sugary beverages larger than 16 oz. before a judge struck down the ban.

Coca-Cola has taken to addressing its critics head on, with a series of ads that address obesity. A two-minute ad, "Coming Together," aired on national cable channels and clearly communicated a "calories in, calories out" message. A less-serious 30-second ad "Be OK," featured a host of activities -- walking a dog, dancing -- that burn off the 140 calories in a regular can of Coke.

Coke continues to rule the category, with a 17% share, according to Beverage Digest. Diet Coke holds a 9.4% share, while Pepsi ranks third with an 8.9% share. Despite promising signs that PepsiCo's work to stabilize its beverage brands is working, regular Pepsi lost 0.3% share and Diet Pepsi lost 0.2% share. Meanwhile, Mtn Dew and Diet Mtn Dew, both PepsiCo brands, gained share.

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