Nielsen: Majors Post Modest All-Channel Gains in September

PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Company, Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP) and Monster Energy Company all posted sales gains of at least 2%, even as overall non-alcoholic beverage and snack sales ebbed slightly, according to a Wells Fargo Securities analysis of Nielsen data.

Coke saw total beverage dollar sales increase to 3.1%, an acceleration over 1.9% growth during the 12 weeks. The Atlanta-based soda giant has driven recent buzz through its forthcoming energy line, but the core CSD business is quietly posting growth; after growing 4.2% over the 12 week period, sales were up 4.9% in the four weeks, with volume growing 4.2%. Sales for both full-calorie (5.1%) and low-calorie (4.3%) sodas were also up during the four weeks. Year-over-year, Coke has outpaced overall CSD category growth of 3.3%, posting a 4.9% increase in sales.

Both KDP and PepsiCo saw a 2.1% increase in beverage sales during the four weeks. Within CSDs, the former outpaced the latter in sales growth, 3.4% to 0.8%.

Wells Fargo Securities’ latest c-store retailer survey included rumors of Coke’s imminent entry into the sparkling water market; if they do step in this year, they’ll be playing catch-up with their archival PepsiCo, which has seen prodigious growth from Bubly (144.2% year-over-year). Sales acceleration was slightly down — 105.3% during the four weeks, compared to 108.1% in the 12 weeks — as were volumes, though still in triple digits at 106.3%. PepsiCo now holds a 10.5% share of the category, up from 8.5% a year ago.

Elsewhere in sparkling, Talking Rain posted a 12.8% increase in sales, with volume up 7.8%. Nestle (8.5%) and Polar (6%) also made gains, but National Beverage Corp. tumbled further thanks to a 17.9% drop in sales and a 16% decrease in volume.

PepsiCo also made a strong showing in still flavored water, posting 14.1% sales growth and a 7.5% increase in volume over the four week period. Nestle managed to pick up the pace in sales, growing 11.6%, despite anemic 1.1% growth year-over year. The big gainer remains Hint, which rose 115.7% during the four weeks and has picked up 1% of category market share since the same time last year.

Ready-to-drink coffee remains a buzzing category, having grown 7.1% over the last 52 weeks. Yet within the segment, the story remains the same: PepsiCo and Starbucks’ North American Coffee Partnership keeps humming along as the dominant force, up 5.8% for the four weeks with volume accelerating to 6.2%. Danone’s coffee portfolio, which includes products from StoK and International Delight, has been a strong performer, reporting 18.9% sales growth for the period (31.7% year-over-year). Califia Farms is also quietly picking up market share, growing sales 13.5% and volume 17.1%. Meanwhile, Coke will be hoping its recent slate of coffee innovations revealed at NACS can help reverse declines in that area, which saw sales tumble 14.4%.

In energy drinks, the last four weeks reflected the same trends seen over the course of 2019: solid, consistent category growth, driven mainly by Bang. The upstart fitness energy brand enjoyed sales growth of 169.6% during the period, with volume up 164.9%. The company’s dollar share of the category now stands at 8.4%, compared to 7.6% at this time one year ago.

Despite Bang outpacing its competition at a healthy clip, Monster and Red Bull both enjoyed solid sales performance over the four week period. Monster reported a 5.2% increase in sales, primarily driven by the Java Monster (4.6%) and the zero-calorie Ultra (3.0%) line. Red Bull, meanwhile, gained 8.1% during the period and saw volume increase 7.9%.

Monster, Red Bull and Bang are also competing in price. Monster posted a 4.5% increase in pricing during the four weeks (5.7% year-over-year), with 40.8% of sales coming on promotion. Red Bull saw average pricing fall 0.2%, with 37.8% sold on promo. Pricing for Bang climbed 1.8% (4.3% year-over-year), with 34.3% sold on promo.

Elsewhere, sports drinks saw solid growth of 12.5% during the four weeks, as strong performance from Gatorade helped category leader PepsiCo increase dollar sales by 8.8%, with volume growth of 5.7%. Tea, however, remained relatively flat, rising by just 1.5% during the four weeks and down 0.3% for the year.