Americans are drinking more non-alcoholic beverages these days.
Increasingly their choice isn’t Coke or Pepsi, though.
Beverage sales rose 1 percent overall in 2012, according to two reports released Monday on the beverage industry’s health.
But sales of soft drinks — increasingly under attack from health officials and big city leaders such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg — continued to decline as Americans switched to less sugary alternatives like teas and water.
John Sicher, editor and publisher of trade publication Beverage Digest, said that sales of fizzy sodas saw their third consecutive year of decline in 2012 — a 1.2 percent drop. That followed a decline of 1 percent in 2011 and .5 percent in 2010. (Beverage Digest includes energy drinks in the carbonated category; excluding them, sales fell 1.7 percent).
“Throughout most of the 1990s, the (carbonated soft drink) category grew volume in the plus-3 percent range annually, but then its performance began to slow in 1999,” Sicher said in notes on his analysis. “It has been in decline since 2005.”
Soft drink sales are important because they make up about 45 percent of beverage sales for the industry, which is led by Atlanta-based market leader Coca-Cola. The 2012 carbonated drink sales dip — volume fell from 13.6 billion gallons in 2011 to 13.3 billion gallons last year — was the eighth consecutive year of decline in the category, said Beverage Marketing Corporation, which also studies the industry.
At the same time, sales of energy drinks, teas and water have been expanding, with energy drinks up 14.3 percent in 2012, the biggest jump among all segments, Beverage Marketing Corporation said.
Dasani water sales volume jumped 9.1 percent while Arizona, a large tea maker, logged 6.2 percent volume growth, according to Beverage Digest’s analysis.
“Today we just have so many more choices,” Gary Hemphill, spokesman for the Beverage Marketing Corporation, said of the decline in carbonated drink consumption. “We’re likely to see this kind of trend continue.”
Overall Coca-Cola remained the top brand in carbonated drinks — Coke and Diet Coke retained the Nos. 1 and 2 spots — as well as all combined categories.
“We continue to be optimistic about the sparkling beverage category and we see upside over the next several years,” Scott Williamson, a Coke spokesman, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’re encouraged because our sparkling brands continue to lead in their respective categories — people love our brands.”