US Soda Consumption at Its Lowest Level in 30 Years

Americans are kicking their soda habit.

ByABC News
March 30, 2016, 5:40 PM

— -- Americans trying to kick their soda habit are succeeding, with soda consumption in the U.S. at its lowest level in 30 years, according to a new report.

In 2015 the per capita consumption of carbonated soft drinks was its lowest level since 1985, according to Beverage Digest, a trade publication.

Annual per capita soda consumption in the U.S. fell to about 650 eight-ounce servings last year, compared to 663 servings in 2014, factoring in lower volume and a modest increase in the U.S. population, the report stated.

"Soda declines have been driven by an explosion of beverage alternatives -- everything from energy drinks to cold brew coffee -- and some consumers’ desire to cut sugar or artificial sweeteners from their diets," Duane Stanford, Beverage Digest editor, told ABC News.

The report's not a surprise to Adam Fleck, equity analyst with Morningstar, who said consumers continue to turn away from carbonated soft drinks.

"I don't think that's likely to abate anytime soon," Fleck told ABC News. "The core consumer of soda continues to hold up the market, so the U.S. is still one of the highest per capita consumption countries in the world. But as you see a move toward healthier and organic options, and smaller packages, the overall volume picture will continue to decline."

As Americans try to switch to what they believe are healthier beverage options, even diet soda took a hit.

"Consumer skepticism of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame continued to depress sales of diet brands," the Beverage Digest report stated. Both Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi lost market share last year, with Diet Coke’s volume falling 5.6 percent, still better than the 6.6 percent decline in 2014. Diet Pepsi's volume declined 5.8 percent, compared to a 5.2 percent decline in 2014.

Diet Pepsi "introduced an aspartame-free version late last year that coincided with an acceleration of the brand’s decline," the report stated.

But it's not all bad news for soda companies like the Coca-Cola Company, which has 33.2 percent of the overall beverage market, and PepsiCo, which has 25.1 percent.

"While soft drink consumption is declining, people are shifting to non-sodas as evidenced by the accelerated growth of liquid refreshment beverages like bottled waters, sports drinks and teas," Stanford said.

Last year, Coca-Cola made an equity deal with Monster Beverage in which the beverage giant gained natural soda and tea brands Hansen's and Peace Tea. In the deal, Coca-Cola handed over Full Throttle and NOS energy drinks to Monster.

Significant growth in the overall "liquid refreshment beverage" category, which includes soda and non-carbonated drinks like sports drinks, teas and juice, continued to come from bottled water, the report stated.

Last month, the Coca-Cola Company's fourth-quarter profit beat Wall Street's expectations as the company's sales by volume shifted toward non-carbonated drinks. The company's portfolio of brands include Dasani, Vitaminwater, Powerade, Simply Juices and Minute Made.

PepsiCo's brands include Aquafina, Gatorade, Tropicana and Naked Juice.