Soda and Soft Drink Sales Plummet to Lowest Since 1985

Sales of Soda and Soft Drinks Plummet to Lowest Since 1985

Sales of soda and soft drinks are down for the 11th consecutive year in the United States, slumping to a 30-year low.

Total volume of soda sales declined 1.2 percent in 2015, a margin even greater than 2014, when volume descended 0.9 percent. Americans consumed one percent less Coca-Cola and 3.2 percent less Pepsi than in 2014.

Diet soda sales were especially weak, Fortune reported, as both Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke descended in popularity.

The annual per capita consumption of sodas in 2015 was about 650 eight-ounce servings, according to industry tracker Beverage Digest, for a total of 8.7 billion 192-ounce cases consumed in America last year.

Soda companies, however, emphasize that while volume of consumption is decreasing, purchase of individual packages is increasing.

“The consumer is moving to smaller packages,” Sandy Douglas, president of Coca-Cola North America, said at the Morgan Stanley Global Consumer and Retail Conference in November. “A 12-ounce can traded to a 7-ounce can is a 30% reduction in volume, but it’s an increase in revenue.”

Fortune reported that consumers are choosing juices and flavored waters instead of sodas and other sugary soft drinks, as they are generally perceived to be healthier, with fewer calories and artificial ingredients such as aspartame. Popular worries about this artificial sweetener in particular led to PepsiCo removing the ingredient from its Diet Pepsi soft drinks last year.

If these soda companies are keeping their heads above water, it may be due to the bottled water branch of their offerings. Sales for Dasani (Coca-Cola), Aquafina (Pepsi), and Poland Spring (Nestlé) all increased up to 11 percent this year.

The new federal health guidelines released in January specifically limited sugar for the first time, urging people to get no more than 10 percent of their calories from added sugar. One 12-ounce can of cola contains 39 grams of sugar, or 140 calories from sugar. For a person consuming a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet, one soft drink represents 7 percent of their recommended daily calories from sugar.

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Cola image via Shutterstock

Emily Monaco is a food and culture writer based in Paris. Her work has been featured in the Wall... More about Emily Monaco