An overview of the carbonated soft drink industry shows declining trends in volumes of carbonated drinks

Carbonated soft drink industry has been growing steadily. There are several manufacturers and bottlers who are going all out to reach more and more customers. Carbonated soft drinks have always been marketed as healthy drinks. However, latest studies have reported to the contrary. Obesity, dental carries, calcium depletion, nutritional deficiency, etc are associated with carbonated soft drinks. There are reports that suggest growing awareness against the widespread consumption of carbonated soft drinks. The sales of different brands have seen a steady decline from 2005 onwards.

The US soft drinks industry includes producers or manufacturers, bottlers and retailers. The producers provide the concentrate flavors to the bottlers. The manufacturers are the owners of the brands for which they are providing the concentrate. The bottlers have the important function of converting flavors to soft drinks. They mix sweeteners and carbonated water to the concentrate flavors to create the soft drink. They package these into glass or plastic bottles, cans, etc and send them to retailers. Convenience stores, super markets, discount stores like Wal-Mart, etc are the ones who provide them to the final customers. Generally the manufacturers of diet drinks that contain artificial sweeteners add the sweeteners to concentrate before sending them to the bottlers. The bottlers are assigned territories to market and distribute the products. There may be different bottlers in different countries. For e.g. Orange Crush brand is distributed and marketed by Pepsi Bottling group in US territories while the Cadbury beverages has the rights for the Canadian market.

The carbonated soft drink industry had grown nearly 300% since the first time soft drinks were sold. However, Morgan Stanley analyst, Bill Pecoriello presented some shocking figures in his report of the industry. Since 2005 there has been a decline in the sales volumes of carbonated soft drinks. The decline in volumes has been at around 1.5% since 2005 and may continue at the same rate or even more over the next few years. The sales volume of non carbonated beverages is growing steadily and soon may overtake carbonated drinks. An interesting part of the report are figures showing that number of teenagers aged 13 to 17, who were the top consumer category, has seen the most decline. Pecoriello attributes it to the growing awareness among teenagers about their health and wellness. It may also be due to parental restrictions on consumption.

There is an increasing opportunity to all the manufacturers and bottlers in the non carbonated sector. PepsiCo seems to be gaining in the race with their Gatorade and Aquafina water brands. Coca-Cola may have not caught up with them on this category but they seem to be ahead in accepting safe and natural no calorie sweeteners like stevia. They have already started producing their soft drinks with using sweeteners like stevia. Non carbonated drinks have a market share of 21% at the moment and have the potential to go up to 60% in the next five years.

Overall the market scenario for carbonated soft drink industry seems bleak unless they move to healthier options. With the growing awareness amongst the new generation, the non carbonated sector may soon overtake the carbonated sector.

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