Nielsen: Positive Signs for CSDs, Java Fuels Monster Gains

Carbonated soft drink (CSD) unit sales increased 3 percent in a year-over-year comparison for a four-week period ending on May 19, as reported in a generally positive Wells Fargo Securities beverage report on Nielsen sales data released earlier this week.

Volume growth of 1.5 percent in CSDs, excluding energy drinks, helped spur a modest reversal of fortune for the category, though unit sales are still down by -1.3 percent in the last 52 weeks.

The Coca-Cola Company enjoyed the largest growth in CSD dollar sales at 6.1 percent, contributing to a total increase of 5 percent for total beverage sales during the four-week period. Unit sales for Coke’s core line were up 2.2 percent, while Diet Coke and Coke Zero Sugar — both of which have undergone individual revamps within the past year — performed even better, up 6 percent and 22.8 percent, respectively. Caffeine-free Diet Coke (3.3 percent) and Sprite Zero (11.5 percent) also helped Coke record a 9.5 percent increase in unit sales for low-calorie CSDs. Fanta had a strong four-week period as well, recording an 11.6 percent jump in dollar sales.

Outside of soda, Coke posted an 8.5 percent increase in bottled water unit sales during the period. Still flavored waters were up 5.6 percent, but a double-digit jump in unit sales for Dasani’s carbonated line helped spark even bigger gains for Coke’s sparkling flavored water segment, which were up 24.6 percent (42.1 percent over the last 12 weeks).

Meanwhile, total beverage sales for Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS) were up 4.3 percent. CSD unit sales (3.4 percent) and volumes (1.3 percent) were both up for the Plano, Texas-based corporation, continuing its solid performance over the past 52 weeks in the category. Unit sales for the core Dr Pepper line remained flat at approximately 0.4 percent during the four-week period, while Diet Dr Pepper posted a 4.1 percent rise.

DPS made yet bigger strides in the four-week period in self-stable juices, where Bai continued to outperform its rivals by scoring a 27.3 percent increase in unit sales.

Elsewhere, Nielsen data for PepsiCo underscored comments made by the company in a recent earnings report, which indicated that its snacks division has helped offset disappointing results in some beverage segments, particularly CSDs. Though CSD volume made gains of around 2 percent, negative growth in both regular and low-calorie CSDs caused total category unit sales in the four-week period to fall by approximately 1.9 percent.

However, Pepsi Max, which grew 24.8 percent in dollar sales during the period, proved a bright spot within Pepsi CSD portfolio.

Energy drinks (-12.9 percent) and refrigerated juices (-2.9 percent) also underperformed for Pepsi, but at least one recent move has had an immediate positive impact for the company. The launch of sparkling water line Bubly has boosted PepsiCo’s dollar share of the category to 4.7 percent during the four-week period, according to the Wells Fargo report.

Meanwhile, the energy drink category, up 3.5 percent in the last 52 weeks, grew 7 percent in the four-week period ending on May 19, led by another robust performance by Monster Energy. Total beverage sales for the brand were up 15.7 percent in the period, fueled by a 27 percent increase in Java Monster dollar sales and 17.9 percent growth for Monster Zero Ultra. The brand’s core line was also up 10.6 percent.

Also in energy, Red Bull energy sales were up 2.6 percent during the four-week period, led by a 13.7 percent increase in dollar sales for its Blue Edition SKU. Rockstar Energy sales, meanwhile, declined -3.7 percent.