Nielsen: 2018 Ends With Bump in CSD, Energy Sales

All three major beverage manufacturers enjoyed individual sales increases during the four-week period ending on Dec. 29, with all-channel dollar sales for non-alcoholic beverages up 5.8 percent, according to an analysis of Nielsen data by Wells Fargo Securities.

The report ends 2018 on a high for The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, and Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP), as carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) benefitted from strong pricing and sales in high-performing categories like energy drinks and sparkling flavored water grew by double-digits.

For Coke, total beverage dollar sales rose by 2.6 percent during the four-week period, and are up 2 percent over the last 52 weeks. Sales for the soda giant’s CSD portfolio grew a robust 4.9 percent, with 4.1 percent growth for regular CSDs and 6.7 percent for low-calorie drinks. Sales of Coca-Cola Zero were up 10.7 percent with an average price increase of 4.2 percent, while Diet Coke sales were up 4.6 percent.

Although Coke’s CSD unit volume declined by 1.9 percent, that drop was offset by a 7 percent increase in average price. In other categories, the company’s results were mixed: both still flavored water (1.3 percent) and sparkling flavored water (6.1 percent) made gains, while sales fell for shelf-stable juices (-3.5 percent), refrigerated juices (-3.3 percent) and bottled water (-0.2 percent).

PepsiCo starts the new year with positive momentum from the end of 2018; over the four-week period, total beverage and snack sales were up 2.5 percent, driven in part by a 1.7 percent increase in sales for CSDs. Those sales were offset by a 4 percent drop in unit volume. Much of the sales growth happened within PepsiCo’s low calorie CSD portfolio, which rose 4.3 percent. While both bottled water and sparkling flavored water appear to be growth segments — with sales increasing 8.3 percent and 15.7 percent respectively — sales for shelf-stables juices fell 13 percent and sports drinks were down 1.3 percent. Despite an 18.2 percent drop in sales for PepsiCo’s energy drinks, sales of Starbucks Doubleshot, a coffee-based energy drink released through the soda giant’s North American Coffee Partnership, was up 5.9 percent over the four-week period.

While Coke and Pepsi dwarf its own retail sales revenues, KDP grew on par with its two larger rivals during the four-week period, with total beverage sales up 2.5 percent to $9.6 billion. The company also outpaced them in CSDs, where sales were up 5.2 percent against 1.8 percent decline in unit volume. Regular and low-calorie CSD sales growth was about even, at 5 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively. KDP posted strong sales growth in shelf stable juices, which includes products like Bai, which grew 7.6 percent.

In energy drinks, category leaders Monster and Red Bull finished off the year strong. Sales of Monster’s core line increased 10.5 percent during the period (up 7.4 percent over 52 weeks), while its branded products were up 8.0 percent, with Monster Zero Ultra (14.6 percent growth on 7.5 percent rise in unit volume over the four-week period) and Java Monster (14.6 percent sales growth) the standout performers. Meanwhile, Red Bull sales increased 9.5 percent, with volume up 11.2 percent and average price down 1.5 percent. The meteoric rise of Bang continued as well, with dollar sales rising 868.6 percent and volume up 806.1 percent, with an average price increase of 6.9 percent. Over a 52-week period, Bang sales dollars are up 784.2 percent to $273 million.

Independent brands also enjoyed increased sales during the winter holidays. Dollar sales for sparkling flavored waters from Sparkling Ice were up 17.8 percent against average price declines of 1.6 percent, while Polar sales were up 21.7 percent. In coffee, Califia Farms saw dollar sales increase 28.2 percent over the four-week period (25.8 percent over 52 weeks), and now stands at 1.2 percent dollar share of the total liquid coffee category.

Elsewhere, Fiji’s recent struggles continued, as dollar sales in the four-week period declined 11.3 percent and volume dropped 9.3 percent. The company exited KDP’s distribution network this summer and has been self-distributing since; dollar sales and volume are down 0.5 percent over 52 weeks. In the still flavored water segment, Hint closed the year by posting a 39.7 percent increase in sales (72.7 percent for 52 weeks) and a volume increase of 49.9 percent.