Diet Pepsi Sales Plunge

April 1, 2014 by Douglas A. McIntyre

Source: courtesy of PepsiCo
Soda sales in general have been under siege, mostly because of high sugar and calories levels. Among the brands within the industry, Diet Pepsi has taken a particularly bad beating. The news shows the challenge that PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE: PEP) and other large soft drink makers face.

New data from Beverage-Digest (BD) show that among the largest carbonated soft drink (CSD) brands by volume of sales, Diet Pepsi sales dropped 6.9% from 2012 to 2013. The falloff is part of a pattern, the research operation reports:

As BD reported several times last year, diets CSDs are now struggling. At least some consumers seem to be shying away from the legacy diet sweeteners, according to sources. Last year, in this all-channel data, brand Coke way out-performed Diet Coke. Brand Pepsi out-performed Diet Pepsi. Mt. Dew out-performed Diet Mt. Dew. And Dr Pepper out-performed Diet Dr. Pepper.

Diet Pepsi has a 4.5% share among all carbonated soft drinks. The drop in diet drink sales was further confirmed as sales of the market leader, Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) brand Diet Coke, dropped 6.8%. Its share of the entire category was 9%.

Sales of traditional high-calorie drinks did relatively well. Sales of market leader Coke fell only 0.5%. The brand has a massive 17.4% of the market.

There is solid proof that the industry itself is in trouble. Although in aggregate it was able to raise prices, sales volume dropped:

BD estimates that all-channel CSD pricing last year was up about +2%. That means total CSD dollars were down about -1%, to about $76.3 bil from about $77.1 bil in 2012. Last year was the first in which the overall retail value of the CSD category declined since BD began tracking.

Methodology: Each March, BD publishes summary all-channel U.S. beverage results for the previous year. BD’s data covers LRBs (liquid refreshment beverages) and the components thereof: CSDs (including energy drinks), bottled water and non-carbs (sports drinks, ready-to-drink teas, juice drinks, and the like).