Soda Loses Market Share to Tea

Tea is an important segment in the wave of refreshment beverages that for the first time has surpassed carbonated soft drinks by volume.

“The U.S. liquid refreshment beverage market grew more quickly in 2016 than in 2015, which in turn saw acceleration over 2014’s growth,” according to New York-based Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC).

“The market’s (3.4 percent) performance was the strongest seen in several years,” according to BMC. “Beverage–specific factors, such as the remarkable vibrancy of the sizeable bottled water segment, as well as more general ones, such as the continuing economic recovery, contributed to the overall increase in liquid refreshment beverage volume, which approached 33 billion gallons in 2016.”

Ready-to-drink tea grew by 3.1 percent.

RTD tea recorded a combined annual growth rate of 16 percent during the five years ending 2016, generating revenues of $1.1 billion, according to BMC.

The big news is that bottled water is now the number-one beverage by volume, accelerating by 8.6% in 2016.

Among younger consumers bottled water is the to beverage purchase – 43 percent drink bottle water seven or more times a week. Coffee is next at 22 percent and brewed tea is third at 12 percent according to BMC. The demographically balanced survey of U.S. college students revealed 15 percent consider brewed tea their favorite pick-me-up beverage while 49 percent named coffee as their go-to choice. RTD coffee advanced a significant 11% propelled in large part by the popularity of cold brew.

BMC noted that refreshment beverages share essential traits — healthful, natural, calorie-free and convenient — that increasingly appeal to U.S. consumers.

Water bottlers also continued their aggressive pricing strategy, which also contributed to bottled water’s performance.

The volume of carbonated soda as a share of throat declined 0.8%, continuing a 12-year slide. Fruit beverages (juices and fusions) decline 1.4 percent in volume. Tea ranks five on the list.

Value-added water (vitamin enhanced and similar) outperformed all other segments with 12.3 percent increase in volume in 2016 but BMC notes that the segment accounts for only a tiny share of refreshment beverage volume — less than 2 percent.

Gatorade (up 3.8 percent) was the top sport drink with 1.1 million gallons sold, accounting for 3.3 percent of total liquid refreshment beverage volume.

Although in decline, Coca-Cola sold nearly 4 million gallons of Coke (all varieties) last year and PepsiCo sold 1.8 million gallons of Pepsi. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo dominate the liquid refreshment category with 7 brands in the top 10 including Dasani (Coca-Cola) and Aquafina (PepsiCo). Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA) had two (Pure Life and Poland Spring).

Source: Beverage Marketing Corporation