Pepsi Passes Diet Coke as the No. 2 Soda in the U.S.

Pepsi LogoPepsi has reclaimed its positioning as the No. 2 soda in the United States, five years after losing that spot to Diet Coke. Citing data from Beverage Digest, an industry newsletter, The Wall Street Journal reports that Diet Coke saw a volume decline of 6.6 percent in 2014, outweighing Pepsi’s 1.8 percent drop. Diet Pepsi and Diet Mountain Dew also saw significant volume declines in 2014 of 5.2 percent and 3 percent, respectively and Coke Zero shrank by 2 percent.

The shift speaks to the faster and more drastic drop of diet soda within the greater fall from grace of carbonated soft drinks, which have now seen a full decade of sales declines. Since its introduction diet cola has played the role of soda’s healthier alternative, geared towards athletes, diabetics and those looking to shed some pounds. But the health-conscious consumer has evolved in recent years, steering away from artificial low-calorie sweeteners like aspartame. Accordingly, diet soda has posted four consecutive years of volume declines.

In response, Coca-Cola and Pepsi returned to the drawing board in 2014 in an effort to find a new product to connect with fleeing consumers and the elusive millennial, a generation that came of age after big soda’s heyday. The result came in the Fall with the roll-out of Coca-Cola Life and Pepsi True, two low-calorie and naturally sweetened sodas boasting cane sugar and stevia in place of high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.

Coca-Cola, meanwhile, has maintained its positioning at the top of the totem pole, and saw a 0.1 percent bump in volume in 2014, increasing its overall market share to 17.6 percent.