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Four-Year Sales Skid Accelerates For Soda Pop

U.S. soft-drink volume fell 3% in 2008, the steepest drop on record and the fourth year in a row that has shown a decline, according to Beverage Digest. The cumulative 6% decline over four years erased gains made by the industry between 1997 and 2004, Valerie Bauerlein reports, which has the industry's high-water mark.

The sales drop is due to the slow economy and increases in pricing, along with some continued interest in alternative beverages such as enhanced waters, says John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest. Sales of energy drinks have slowed, too, as they tend to be relatively expensive, Sicher says.

Coke spokesman Dan Schafer says the company expects its soft-drink volume to grow again. The company cites new advertising and packaging such as 99-cent, 14-ounce bottles as evidence of its attention to core soft-drink brands.

Pepsi also expects soft-drink volume to grow again, says spokesman Larry Jabbonsky, at least in line with population growth. It recently revamped marketing and packaging for key beverages such as Pepsi and Gatorade.



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