As the public becomes more aware of their role in the obesity epidemic, sugary sodas are taking a hit in sales. Schools are banning sugary soft drinks from vending machines and municipalities are removing them from public facilities. According to a soft drink industry report, the decline in soda sales accelerated in 2011.
Washing down the American diet
Sugary sodas are the number one source of calories in the American diet. People get more calories from soft drinks than pizza, burgers, French fries or any other food. Last year more than 9 billion cases of soft drinks were sold in the U.S.—an average of more than 700 servings per capita or the equivalent of 2.5 cups of sugar a week. But consumer demand for soda has been sliding.
Soda sales report
Earlier this year a report from “Beverage Digest” said that a seven-year trend of declining soda sales accelerated in 2011. After falling a half percent from 2009 to 2010, carbonated soft drink sales dropped a full percentage point last year to their lowest point since 1996. Even though Americans still drank an average of 714 servings in 2011, it was the lowest rate of consumption since 1986.
Both Coke and Pepsi saw their market shares shrink last year and these companies have been increasing their development of more ready-to-drink tea and coffee, sports drinks and energy drinks. Beverage Marketing estimates energy drink sales grew 14.4 percent by volume in 2011. Last year Gatorade, a Pepsi product, topped one-billion-gallons in sales for the first time.
Energy drinks and sugar
The decline in soda sales shouldn’t be interpreted as an indicator of healthier habits among Americans. Coke and Pepsi may be shifting toward non-carbonated drinks as consumers become more aware of the link between sugary soda and obesity. But the alternatives can be just as bad for you. Energy drinks are loaded with as much sugar as sodas, as well as sodium, caffeine and other chemical additives.
Don’t cry for Coke and Pepsi
Even though consumers are cutting back on sugary sodas, beverage companies are still increasing profits by raising prices. According to Beverage Digest, soft drink prices rose about 3 percent in 2011 as companies passed on rising costs for high fructose corn syrup and other chemicals to consumers, boosting revenue from carbonated soft drinks to a record high of $75.2 billion in the U.S.
Avoid 15 extra pounds
So the good news about declining soda sales isn’t necessarily bad news for Coke and Pepsi. But you can do your part to continue the trend. When faced with a choice between sugary soda and cool, clean water, keep in mind a 2005 study by the Harvard School of Public Health that reported consuming one extra soft drink each day will add 15 pounds in body weight to the normal person in a year.