Nielsen: Energy Drinks See Modest Growth in March, CSD Down

Energy drinks again saw modest growth last month while CSD continued to slip behind in sales, according to the latest Nielsen xAOC (expanded all outlets combined) and C-store non-alcoholic beverage analysis for the four-week period ending on March 25.

Total energy drink sales were up 3.2 percent for the four-week period, compared to 3.0 percent for the 12-week timeframe.

The totals exclude Monster’s Mutant, a “super soda” that Nielsen recently reclassified as a carbonated soft drink. With Mutant included, sales growth improved to 3.6 percent for the four-week period. Monster, which currently leads the category with a 41 percent share of the market, reported 3.6 percent sales growth for the four-week period and 2.8 percent for the 12-week.

According to Wells Fargo Securities analyst Bonnie Herzog, Monster’s innovation is encouraging, but flat sales trends for Mutant and the continued delay of enhanced energy water Hydro raise concerns.

Elsewhere, Red Bull reported 5.4 percent sales growth — a 0.5 percent increase over the 12-week period — while PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew Kickstart dropped significantly, down 16.5 percent.

In CSD, sales were down across the board despite solid pricing, with PepsiCo seeing the most significant decline at 6.1 percent for the four-week period and 4.3 percent for the 12-week timeframe.

Coke reported -2.2 percent for the four-week period compared to a small 0.1 percent growth for the 12-week, with its flagship brand and Diet Coke both reporting significant declines. Fanta and Sprite both showed positive growth in the four-week period at 8.8 percent and 3.6 percent respectively, but were down from the 12-week.

Total regular CSD sales were down 2.8 percent while diet CSD fell by 4.1 percent, averaging to a total -3.1 percent decline for the category.

PepsiCo, however, regained ground in bottled water with the January launch of Life WTR. Although overall bottled water sales decelerated, PepsiCo led the category with 10.4 percent growth, yet the company is still trailing leaders Nestle (28.1 percent) and Coke (19.0 percent) with an 11 percent of the market. According to Herzog, PepsiCo’s Life WTR appears to be siphoning sales from Coca-Cola’s Smartwater, which is down 5.4 percent for the month.

In sparkling and flavored water, National Beverage Corp., maker of La Croix, saw 60.9 percent sales growth for the four-week period, down slightly from the 12-week growth of 62.9 percent.

Sports Drinks and Liquid Tea sales fell slightly to 3.4 percent (from 0.2 percent) and 1.4 percent (from 2.3 percent), respectively. Refrigerated juice drinks gained slightly, up from 2.7 percent to 2.3 percent.

According to Cowen and Company, a year-over-year comparison for this period is difficult to gauge properly due to the Easter holiday falling in April this year instead of March.