Nielsen: Sparkling Waters, CSDs Spur Growth in March

All channel sales for snacks and non-alcoholic beverages grew 5.1 percent during the four-week period ending Mar. 23, according to an analysis of Nielsen data by Wells Fargo Securities.

Total beverage sales for The Coca-Cola Company increased 2.9 percent to $18.4 billion, a slight uptick on momentum over the 12 week (2.4 percent) and 52 week periods (2.4 percent). The company enjoyed strong performance from its carbonated soft drink (CSD) portfolio, which grew 5.6 percent over the four-week period against an average price increase of 4.9 percent and 0.7 percent increase in volume. Sales of regular CSDs were up 6.4 percent, compared to 4.0 percent for low calorie sodas.

Elsewhere, sales of Coke’s bottled water products dipped 0.7 percent over the four week period, with volume dropping 2.2 percent and pricing up 1.6 percent. Sparkling and still flavored water sales also fell 1.1 percent, as did sports drinks, down 2.5 percent. However, the most dramatic downturns came in shelf-stable juices and coconut water. The former saw sales fall 15.2 percent and volumes decline 15.7 percent, while the latter recorded a 26.4 percent drop in sales over the four-week period (down 20.3 percent over 52 weeks).

PepsiCo enjoyed 2 percent growth in total beverage and snack sales during the four weeks. CSDs performed well for the company, up 1.5 percent in sales against 2.8 percent decline in volume. Yet water proved to be the main growth driver; sales of still flavored water increased 14.1 percent (volume grew 12.5 percent), while bottled water sales climbed 4 percent. Sparkling water performed even better, growing 108.8 percent over the four-week period and 459.9 percent over the 52-week period. Sparkling and still flavored water together are up 46.2 percent and represent over $500 million in retail sales for PepsiCo over the 52 weeks.

Sports drinks sales for PepsiCo also grew 0.8 percent, reversing a 2.1 percent decline over the 12-week period. However, the company’s energy drinks (including tea and coffee) fell 31.2 percent and refrigerated juices were down 4.4 percent.

Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP) saw total beverage sales increase 1.9 percent. CSDs were up 3.8 percent over the four weeks, with volume dropping 4.2 percent and price increasing 8.3 percent during that time. While its rivals saw dollar sales drop in shelf-stable juices, KDP recorded a 2 percent increase in the category. The company’s bottled water portfolio, which now includes CORE, grew sales 5.2 percent in the period (up 16.9 percent for the 52-week period), as volume fell 10.8 percent and average price grew 17.9 percent. Liquid tea sales were up 1.7 percent, though only 0.3 percent over the 52-week period.

Elsewhere, KDP sales of sparkling flavored water (1.4 percent), sparkling juice (7.1 percent) and energy drinks (1.5 percent) were all down.

In the energy category, which saw dollar sales climb 8.1 percent, the story remains mostly the same: Monster is sliding, Bang is gaining, and Red Bull is maintaining a consistent growth trajectory. For Monster, total energy sales declined 2.6 percent over the four-week period, though they remain up 9.2 percent for the 52-week period. Volume fell 8.3 percent during the four weeks, while the average price rose 6.3 percent. Meanwhile, Bang sales grew 869.4 percent over the four weeks, matched by volume gains of 808.5 percent. The upstart brand, which launched another salvo in its ongoing legal battle with Monster, grew dollar share of the category 8.3 percent over the four weeks.

Meanwhile, Red Bull posted a dollar sales increase of 7.8 percent for the four-week period, against 8.6 percent growth in volume and 0.8 percent decline in average price. Rockstar energy sales continued to slide, though the company enjoyed 12.8 percent growth in coffee product sales.

From top level perspective, strong growth for sparkling flavored water — up 15.3 percent in dollar sales, 11.4 percent in volume over the four weeks — remains the big story. Along with Pepsi’s robust showing, Talking Rain also impressed, posting 18.4 percent growth in dollar sales for sparkling flavored water over the four weeks, with volume up 19.1 percent. Climbing sales for Nestle (21.8 percent) and Polar (22.6 percent) are helping power the category, but 10 percent uptick in sales for private label and 65.7 percent for all others (97.6 percent for 52 weeks) indicates there is still more ground to be gained in this $2.4 billion segment.

Wells Fargo managing director of equity research Bonnie Herzog wrote in a report that the bank was “impressed by still strong trends across the liquid coffee category,” noting a 7.2 percent increase in sales. Within the segment, Pepsi and Starbucks’ North American Coffee Partnership (NACP) charted ahead of Coke’s liquid coffee portfolio, growing 4.1 percent compared to 2.5 percent (though it is outpacing its rival 16.2 percent to 2.8 percent for the 52-week period). Herzog noted increased competition for NACP, which saw its dollar share for the category slide as Danone North America made gains.