America's three biggest soda companies all reported declining sales last quarter, suggesting that Americans are giving up on the sweet, sweet drinks — even the diet versions that don't have any sugar. Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Dr. Pepper Snapple, are all seeing big drops in sales this year, continuing the trend of slow declines in "per capita soda consumption."
The normal reaction on hearing that news might be to think that Americans are becoming more health conscious and trying to avoid the high-calorie, sugary beverages that are major factor in the nationwide obesity problem. Even though Mayor Michael Bloomberg's campaign to ban large sodas in New York never came to fruition, the debate over the plan went national, putting the ill effects of too much sugar in major headlines and prompting a lot of discussion about just how bad these drinks can be for you.
However, it's the diet versions of these beverages that are taking the biggest hit. Sales of diet sodas are down eight percent at Pepsi, compared to five percent for their regular drinks, and Coke has seen similar declines. Recent studies have shown that artificially sweetened drinks don't do much to help people lose weight — in fact, they may actually cause you to gain weight — yet they can still have the same ill effects on your teeth, your heart, and your stomach that the sugar-filled drinks do.
Whatever the cause, Americans are definitely cutting back and the marketing arms of these companies just aren't coming through. (You also can't discount the rise of Sodastream and other homemade and local brews.) Dr. Pepper's line of 10-calorie sodas which were pitched exclusively to men have been sluggish at best. The decline in interest is also prompting the big soda companies to rethink their sweetener strategies and to try and develop new modifications that might bring back customers.
But don't worry about these corporate giants too much. Sales of bottled water, juice, and energy drinks are keeping their bellies full for now.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.