Coke, Pepsi lose U.S. market share

/ Source: The Associated Press

Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. saw their share of the U.S. soft-drink market decline in 2004, according to annual rankings released Friday.

Cadbury Schweppes PLC maker of Dr Pepper, and Cott Corp., the biggest supplier of private-label soda, increased their share of the $65.9 billion market.

Coke, the industry leader based in Atlanta, saw its U.S. market share drop by 0.9 percentage point to 43.1 percent. The market share for PepsiCo, Purchase, N.Y., declined by 0.1 percentage point to 31.7 percent. Coke's volume fell 1 percent, while Pepsi managed a volume gain of 0.4 percentage point in the U.S.

The market-share results, released by Beverage Digest/Maxwell, a data service that tracks soft-drink sales, reflect the continued growth of diet soft drinks and energy drinks and the steady decline of sugary colas.

The soft-drink industry overall grew 1 percent by volume in 2004. That was better than 2003, but still below the annual growth rates of between 2 percent to 4 percent during the 1990s. That drop-off has come as consumers increasingly reach for bottled water and other noncarbonated drinks.

7 UP drops out of top 10
Cadbury Schweppes, London, the industry's No. 3 player, boosted its market share by 0.2 percentage point to 14.5 percent. Cadbury was helped by a strong performance from Diet Dr Pepper, which posted a 16.2 percent increase in volume last year. However, its 7 UP brand dropped out of the top 10 soft drinks for the first time since the rankings began in 1985.

Toronto-based Cott, the biggest maker of private-label sodas and a major supplier to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other big retailers, had another strong year. Its market share grew 0.8 percentage point to 5.5 percent.

Last year, price increases from Coke and Pepsi bottlers slowed volume growth and helped private-label sodas gain market share. The price gap in grocery stores between branded sodas and private-label drinks grew to nearly 40 percent last year _ at the high end of historical levels. Retailers have been putting more display space behind their store brands, oftentimes at the expense of Coke and Pepsi.

Coca-Cola Classic retained its spot as the No. 1 soft drink, but its share declined 0.7 percentage point to 17.9 percent and volume fell 3 percent. Pepsi-Cola, the No. 2 soda, lost 0.4 percentage point for an 11.5 percent share, and volume dropped 2.5 percent.

For 2005, Coke and Pepsi have already announced a slew of new drinks aimed at winning back consumers. Coke with Lime recently hit stores, following up on the success of Diet Coke with Lime. Pepsi is following with lime-flavored versions of Pepsi and Diet Pepsi.

Both companies are also trying to seize on the popularity of the Splenda artificial sweetener. A reformulated version of Pepsi One featuring Splenda rolls out shortly and Diet Coke Sweetened with Splenda debuts in May.

Last year, Diet Coke volume was up 5 percent and Diet Pepsi grew 6.7 percent by volume in the United States, according to the rankings.