Diet grows as CSD decline slows

Sales of carbonated soft drinks declined in 2009, but at a lower rate than they have been recently, according to new data from Beverage Digest.

BD showed that North American CSD volumes declined by about 9.4 billion cases, or 2.1 percent, compared to a nearly three percent drop in 2008.

Pepsi Beverages Company chief executive Eric Foss predicted this week that CSD sales will return to low single digit growth in 2011, but consumer preferences within the category may be shifting. Dr Pepper Snapple Group grew its volume by 4.8 percent, according to BD, while PepsiCo and the Coca-Cola Co. lost 5 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively.

Additionally, only two of the top ten CSD brands – Diet Mtn Dew and Diet Dr Pepper – increased their volumes. Fast-growing Coke Zero sold 116 million cases, approaching the 167 million sold by Diet Dr. Pepper, and BD reports that diet beverages now account for 30 percent of the CSD category.

The overall liquid refreshment beverages market has also slipped, with Coke losing 3.1 percent of its volume and PepsiCo down by 7.5 percent. DPSG, however, grew total LRB volumes by 3.3 percent on the strength of its CSD sales.