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Americans losing their taste for soda

Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Dr. Pepper Snapple

Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc. are reporting lower North American soda sales in the second quarter, leaving the industry to look to bottled waters, teas, sports drinks and other beverages to boost sales. Credit: Getty

It seems that not even Beyoncé or new, lower-calorie options can convince Americans to drink more soda.

Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. all said they sold less soda in the second quarter in North America, dashing hopes for the moment that splashy new marketing and different sweetener mixes could get drinkers back.

Coca-Cola Co. said it sold 4 percent less soda in North America, while PepsiCo Inc. simply said its decline for the region was in the "mid-single digits." Dr Pepper sold 3 percent less of the fizzy drinks.

Coca-Cola, based in Atlanta, blamed the sluggish sales on a cold, wet spring. But the declines continue a yearslong trend. According to industry tracker Beverage Digest, per-capita soda consumption in the United States has slipped steadily since 1998 amid concerns sugary drinks fuel weight gain.

Another problem is that people now have so many more choices when it comes to drinks. An endless array of bottled waters, teas of many colors, even energy shots and "relaxation" drinks are vying for the attention of the thirsty, with store coolers getting more crowded all the time.

PepsiCo's decline for the quarter came despite its stepped-up marketing over the past year; the company signed pop star Beyoncé to star in its ads and signed a multiyear deal to sponsor the Super Bowl halftime show.

Dr Pepper has introduced a lineup of 10-calorie sodas, starting with Dr Pepper Ten. But the new drinks apparently aren't convincing enough people to pick up soda again.

Coke has even taken on the question of obesity head-on in TV commercials, hoping to convince people that physical activity can let them enjoy some guilt-free refreshment.

To make up for the declines in the meantime, the industry is relying on bottled waters, teas, sports drinks and other beverages to boost sales. They're also looking overseas to emerging markets, where thirsty middle-class populations are growing.

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