Red Bull now one of top US carbonated soft drink companies

REUTERS — Austria’s Red Bull joined the ranks of the top 10 U.S. carbonated soft drink companies for the first time in 2001 as the overall industry posted moderate growth and Coke Classic retained its spot as the top brand, according to data released on Thursday.

Coca-Cola Co. is still the top carbonated soft drink company, and its Coke Classic is the top brand. But both Coca-Cola’s volume and Coke Classic’s volume fell last year, according to data from Beverage Digest/Maxwell.

Beverage industry newsletter Beverage Digest, along with contributing editor John Maxwell, tracked carbonated soft drink volume in all U.S. channels to compile the results, which show that PepsiCo Inc.’s Pepsi-Cola Co. posted a 1.3 percent climb in volume, driven by Diet Pepsi.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola’s volume slipped 0.2 percent and Coke Classic’s volume fell 2 percent, according to the data.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola was still the front-runner, with a commanding 43.7 share of the market. Its Coke Classic had a 19.9 market share. Purchase, New York-based Pepsi-Cola, meanwhile, grew to a 31.6 market share and its Pepsi-Cola brand had a 13.2 market share.

Diet Pepsi, the No. 7 carbonated soft drink based on market share, posted the strongest volume growth of any brand in the top 10, with volume up 2 percent. It had 5.3 market share with 533.6 million cases. Competitor Diet Coke posted the second-strongest volume growth, at 1.7 percent, to 878.8 million cases, for an 8.8 market share,

Overall, the industry posted a 0.6 percent climb in volume, Beverage Digest/Maxwell said. While that it was up from 2000’s sluggish growth rate of just 0.2 percent, it was well below the annual 2 percent to 3 percent growth seen in the 1990s.

Noncarbonated drinks, such as bottled water, have been pulling consumers away from their bubbly cousins.

The carbonated soft drink companies’ rankings were relatively the same as last year, with the exception of Red Bull. The bubbly energy drink came in as the No. 8 carbonated soft drink company in terms of market share. with 0.1 market share. Its volume more than doubled, to 10.5 million cases.

Royal Crown was no longer listed as a separate company in the rankings, since it was absorbed in late 2000 by Cadbury Schweppes Plc’s U.S. unit, Dr Pepper/Seven Up, which is the No. 3 company behind Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola.

The fourth company in the rankings, Toronto-based Cott Corp., posted the second-largest volume jump. Cott is the largest supplier of store-brand soft drinks.

The rankings of the top 10 brands remained the same, with Coke Classic, Pepsi-Cola, Diet Coke, Mt. Dew and Sprite making up the top five.