Coke, Pepsi sales decline


Published: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 3:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 3:53 p.m.

It seems that not even Beyonce or new, lower-calorie options can convince Americans to drink more soda.

Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. all sold less soda in the second quarter in North America, dashing hopes for the moment that splashy new marketing and different sweetener mixes could get drinkers back.

Coca-Cola Co. said it sold 4 percent less soda in North America, while PepsiCo Inc. simply said its decline for the region was in the "mid-single digits." Dr Pepper sold 3 percent less of the fizzy drinks.

Coca-Cola, based in Atlanta, blamed the sluggish sales on a cold, wet spring. But the declines continue a years-long trend. According to the industry tracker Beverage Digest, per capita soda consumption in the U.S. has been slipping steadily since 1998.

Another problem is that people now have so many more choices when it comes to drinks. An endless array of bottled waters, teas of many colors, even energy shots and "relaxation" drinks are vying for the attention of the thirsty, with store coolers getting more crowded all the time.

The trend "won't change and will probably get worse without a major breakthrough in new sweeteners," said John Sicher, editor and publisher of trade publication Beverage Digest.

PepsiCo's decline for the quarter came despite its stepped-up marketing over the past year; the company signed pop star Beyonce to star in its ads and signed a multiyear deal to sponsor the Super Bowl halftime show.

To make up for the declines in the meantime, the industry is relying on bottled waters, teas, sports drinks and other beverages to boost sales. They're also looking overseas to emerging markets, where middle-class populations are growing and there's a greater potential to sell them more drinks.

Still, the North American soda market remains crucial for Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper. Their executives have steadfastly expressed optimism that a yet-to-be developed soda made with a natural, low-calorie sweetener can help turn around the soda slide.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top