Last year’s US carbonated soft drink market notched unprecedented retail pricing growth, driving up category dollar sales by +8.1% on volume that declined -1.1%, according to BD data. As the table below shows, CSD pricing jumped +9.3% in 2021, which represented an acceleration from the +8.4% pricing growth generated during the first nine months of 2021. Coca-Cola led on pricing growth and matched the category, while Pepsi and Keurig Dr Pepper trailed category pricing growth. During a Feb. 10 earnings conference call for investors, Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey said record price elasticity for soft drinks during the pandemic and recovery was likely fueled by government economic stimulus. He warned that a squeeze on consumers’ incomes, fueled in part by cost inflation, will make pricing “much harder” and require the company “to earn our pricing” with engaging marketing and innovation. Keurig Dr Pepper was the only one of the big three soda makes to grow pricing, dollar sales, and volume. The company also gained the most share. Coca-Cola and Pepsi posted declining volume. Private label CSDs posted double-digit dollar and volume growth and lost category share.
STANDOUT SPRITE. As shown in the Green Sheet, all the 10 largest carbonated soft drink brands posted dollar sales growth across combined retail channels. Sprite was a standout, with dollar sales that jumped almost +15% and volume that was up +5.6%. The brand got a bump during the second half of last year after aluminum can body shortages eased and production of flavored CSDs such as Sprite could be ramped back up. Sprite and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar were the only top-10 brands that posted both dollar and volume sales growth in 2021. They also were the only brands to outperform the category by either measure. Coca-Cola Zero Sugar’s growth likely came at the expense of Diet Coke, which is 40 years old this year. While Diet Coke posted +3.2% dollar sales growth, that progress trailed the category (+8.1%). Diet Coke volume declined -5.5%, which was a rate that far exceeded the category decline of -1.1%.
CONVENIENCE CHANNEL. C-stores, which are a critical channel for higher margin immediate consumption packages, posted +5.0% CSD dollar growth on volume that declined -2.5%. Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Keurig Dr Pepper performed generally on par with each other. Coke Zero Sugar was a strong performer with almost +17% dollar growth and positive volume of +9.0%. Top-10 brands Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Mtn Dew, and Dr Pepper all underperformed the category in the channel.
METHODOLOGY. Quarterly, BD tracks multi-channel soda sales at retail from two data sets. The data are combined to present a cumulative snapshot of the industry during a calendar year. The data cover supermarkets, c-stores, drug chains, mass merchandisers including Walmart, some dollar/club stores, and the military channel. The table within this story shows volume, dollar and pricing metrics by company or brand from the combined data set for the period covered. The Green Sheet that accompanies this newsletter shows corporate and top- 10 brand shares for the combined data sets, plus breakouts for major channels.
PLUS, MOST RECENT 4 WEEKS. At measured retail in the four weeks ending Feb. 12 of this year, CSD dollar sales jumped +10.3% on volume that declined -2.8%, according to Nielsen data cited by Goldman Sachs in a Feb. 22 report. Among the three primary CSD companies, Coca-Cola and Keurig Dr Pepper outperformed the category with dollar sales growth of +11.9% and +12.9% respectively. PepsiCo posted CSD dollar sales growth of +6.4%. Separately, the energy drink category posted dollar growth of +10.6%. Sports drinks grew dollars by +23.8%, while bottled water grew +17.3%.
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