NEW YORK -- Consumers are returning to colas and other carbonated soft drinks, but supermarkets are seeing less of the growth because more consumers are buying their soft drinks at mass merchandisers and other retail outlets, according to a published report.
In 1995 soft drink consumption reached a record 13.75 billion gallons, an almost half a billion gallon increase from 1994, according to the report released by Beverage Marketing Corp. of New York, a leading beverage industry sales tracking and consulting firm. On a per capita basis, it equals 52.2 gallons for every man, woman and child in the United States, or more than two 8-ounce glasses per day.
Beverage Marketing predicts that soft drink sales will continue to grow at a compound annual rate of 3%, approaching 16 billion gallons, or 57.3 gallons per capita, by the year 2000.
According to Gary A. Hemphill, vice president of information services, supermarkets control about 31% of all soft drink volume, and remain the single biggest distribution channel.
"While supermarkets are doing OK, they tend to be losing a little share because of the phenomenal growth in other types of outlets," said Hemphill. Convenience stores have increased primarily because of the growth of single-serve products, he added.
The report found that cola remains the dominant soft drink, accounting for more than 60% of volume, followed by lemon-lime (Sprite and 7-Up) with 12%, and heavy citrus, largely the result of Mountain Dew, with 9.7% of volume, slightly ahead of the Dr. Pepper-type drinks.
Hemphill said much of the growth in carbonated soft drinks can be attributed to consumers moving away from alternative beverages, like ready-to-drink teas and fruit drinks.
He said that private label declined in 1995. However, the upscale Cott private label expanded its sales by introducing new products.
Most of the growth in soft drinks was in traditional varieties, with diet capturing a 1% growth rate over 1994, Hemphill said.
"We're probably not going to see huge growth in diets until a new sweetener is approved. There is still a segment of the population that resists NutraSweet because they don't like the taste or question its safety," Hemphill said.