Soft drinks remain strong in U.S. beverage market

by Staff
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BASINGSTOKE, U.K. — Soft drinks showed the largest per cent of volume growth in the U.S. beverage market in 2006 in comparison with the previous year at around 3.5%, according to "The United States of America Soft Drinks Service Quarterly Beverage Review," a new report from Canadean Ltd., a beverage research company.

Flavored milk sales remained strong throughout the year, and soy and rice drinks were particularly strong during the last quarter.

Overall, the soft drink category represented the largest overall beverage consumption. This was attributed to a wide variety of soft drinks for niche markets.

Carbonates have a place in the market, but are not a driving force, Canadean said. Instead, the demand for bottled water has grown with sales of multi-packs leading the way. Volumes for carbonated soft drinks were down more than 1% compared to 2005 with colas.

"Clear attempts by carbonate suppliers to maintain consumer appeal by investing heavily in new packaging, flavors and brand launches were negated by cost-driven price increases introduced in Q4," Canadean said. "All the major players suffered."

Canadean noted diet carbonates are of concern as sales during the last three months of 2006 were down by more than 3% compared with the same quarter in 2005. Regular carbonates also suffered a negative performance.

Low calorie drinks currently have a third of the carbonates market, however 2007 projections are not optimistic. The decline in carbonates consumption last year is expected to increase slightly this year, and a volume gain of below 1% is predicted for the segment, Canadean said.

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