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U.S. soft drinks market shows growth in 2006.

After a disappointing performance in 2005, the U.S. soft drinks market returned to growth last year. While overall sales grew by 2.8% in 2006, traditional carbonated soft drinks again lost out to energy and sports drinks, bottled water and ready-to-drink tea and coffee as consumers place greater emphasis on functional, healthy products. Michael C. Bellas, chairman and CEO of Beverage Market Corporation/Maxwell, which published the figures, said: "Beverages offering functional benefits are growing two to three times faster than conventional refreshment beverages."

With year-on-year growth of 49% to 227 million gallons energy drinks was the fast growing subcategory, followed by ready-to-drink tea, up 26%. Fruit drinks suffered the biggest losses, with volumes declining by 2.4%.

All of the top three companies, which produce the industry's top ten leading brands, experienced some volume growth. Peps-Cola North America saw an overall rise in volumes of 4.3%, with estimated revenues of $9.6 billion. Second-placed Coca-Cola Co and third-placed Cadbury Schweppes only grew sales volumes by 0.2% and 0.4% respectively.

While both Pepsi and Coca-Cola's growth was driven by energy drinks and non-carbonated beverages--with the Coke and Pepsi brands declining by around 3%--Cadbury Schweppes was the only major company to see growth from its traditional carbonated portfolio. The fastest-growing brands in 2006 included Aquafina (+22%), Gatorade, Tropicana (all Pepsi Co) and Dasani (Coca-Cola Co). Thanks to double-digit growth, Gatorade has made it into the top five brands list by outperforming Sprite.
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Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Date:Mar 19, 2007
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