Nielsen: Sparkling Water, Energy Make Gains

An increase in dollar sales for sparkling flavored waters and energy drinks helped offset slow growth in carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) and a decrease in tea over a four-week period ending on Nov. 3, according an analysis of Nielsen data by Wells Fargo Securities. Total snack and non-alcoholic beverage sales were up 2.9 percent.

Overall sales for carbonated beverages from The Coca-Cola Company rose 2.2 percent over the four-week time frame, during which time average unit price increased by 7.2 percent, the highest of any brand recorded at over 2 points higher than the average price increase for the entire category (5 percent). Low calorie CSD sales grew 3.7 percent, boosted by Diet Coke (3.2 percent increase, with 6.4 percent rise in average price) and Coca-Cola Zero (7.2 percent, with unit increase of 3.9 percent). Sales of Coke’s regular CSDs rose 0.9 percent, with an average price increase of 7.5.

Sales for several of its core lines — Coca-Cola, Sprite and Coca-Cola Cherry — were all up 1.1 percent each, with respective average price increases of 7.1, 6.4 and 7.9 percent. Total beverage sales for Coca-Cola were up a modest 0.3 percent over the four-week period and 1.8 percent year-over-year.

For Pepsi, solid growth in snacks (up 4.5 percent) helped balance a weaker performances from CSDs and tea, resulting in relatively flat overall sales increase of 0.6 percent. Sales of Pepsi’s CSDs were up 0.9 percent, with modest gains in regular (0.7 percent) and low calorie (1.5 percent) segments. Overall CSD unit sales were down 1.7 percent, while average unit price increased 2.6 percent over the four-week period. Still flavored water was a growth area for PepsiCo, with dollar sales up 12.9 percent.

Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP) saw its total beverage dollar sales increase by just under 1 percent during the four-week period. CSDs were up 2.7 percent, balanced by 2.3 percent and 4.1 percent sales growth for regular and low-calorie soft drinks, respectively. The average unit price for KDP’s complete carbonated beverage portfolio increased by 5 percent. Escalating sales for Bai (up 2.4 percent) helped KDP achieve 2.5 percent growth in the shelf-stable juice category. The company is also enjoying robust sales performance from BodyArmor (up 87.6 percent), — which will be missed once the sports drink brand completes its switch from KDP to Coca-Cola’s distribution network in the coming months.

Total CSD dollar sales were up 1.6 percent, against a 3.3 percent decline in volume.

Energy drinks, however, saw both volumes (4.2 percent) and dollar sales (4.7 percent) increase over the four-week period. Monster, excluding sales of its Mutant soda, enjoyed an 8.2 percent increase in dollar sales, in which the performance of Java Monster (up 15.5 percent), Monster Zero Ultra (10.7 percent) and the core Monster line (6.3 percent) offset a 5.8 percent drop in sales for Monster Rehab. The energy drink maker saw volume increase 6.7 percent against an average price increase of 1.4 percent. Meanwhile, Red Bull sales grew 5.4 percent as average price dropped by 1.5 percent. Sales for Red Bull: The Blue Edition were up 7.1 percent during the period.

However, Florida-based Bang Energy stood out in the energy set in posting a 474.5 increase in sales over the four weeks ending on Nov. 3. The brand’s dollar share of the category now stands at 0.7 percent. Nielsen noted that the actual reach may be understated, as the firm is in the process of re-coding Bang brand data to accurately reflect products sold across a range of categories.

Surveying other categories, sparkling flavored water saw dollar sales increase 15 percent against volume growth of 11.6 percent and average price increase of 3 percent. Coca-Cola reported double-digit gains in sales and volume (12.1 percent and 12.4 percent) in the category, while La Croix maker National Beverage Corp. posted declines in sales (-2.7 percent) and volume (-6.9 percent). Increases in average price for some of Nestle Waters regional brands such as Arrowhead (16.5 percent), Poland Spring (5.5 percent) and Ice Mountain (27 percent) didn’t slow dollar sales for any, with the latter up 102.7 percent over the four-week period.

Elsewhere, in still flavored water, Hint saw sales increase 42.6 percent (59 percent over 12-weeks) and volumes jump 46 percent, while kids beverage brand Good 2 Grow grew 29.2 percent in sales and 31.4 percent in volume. Still bottled water sales for stalwart brands like Aqaufina (2.1 percent), Nestle Pure Life (6.5 percent) and Dasani (0.5 percent) were all down, but a 19.6 percent drop by Fiji (down 20.2 percent in volume) was the most notable takeaway. The premium imported water departed its distribution agreement with KDP this summer and has since switched to self-distribution.