America’s Relationship with Soda Pop Is on the Rocks

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America’s love affair with soda pop is losing its fizz.

Once the go-to beverage for many Americans, soda consumption is now in its 10th year of decline.

Although big soda companies continue to successfully fight anti-soda policies and taxes across the country, more American consumers are ditching soda in favor of water and other healthier drink options, according to The New York Times. In fact, bottled water is now so popular in the United States that it’s on track to surpass soda as the largest beverage category in the next two years.

In 2010, the soda industry rallied against a proposed soda tax in Philadelphia. Although the measure ultimately failed to pass, it did change the way many Philadelphians thought about soda, the Times said.

The obvious lesson from Philadelphia is that the soda industry is winning the policy battles over the future of its product. But the bigger picture is that soda companies are losing the war.

Although many calorie-counting Americans abandoned carbonated, sugary soda years ago, many of those same people are now avoiding diet soda as well, citing health concerns about artificial sweeteners like aspartame, The Wall Street Journal explains.

Avoiding soda is affecting the health of many Americans, The Times reports.

The drop in soda consumption represents the single largest change in the American diet in the last decade and is responsible for a substantial reduction in the number of daily calories consumed by the average American child. From 2004 to 2012, children consumed 79 fewer sugar-sweetened beverage calories a day, according to a large government survey, representing a 4 percent cut in calories over all. As total calorie intake has declined, obesity rates among school-age children appear to have leveled off.

There’s a good chance that soda consumption in the United States will continue its downward spiral, especially as more and more parents snub soda in favor of other drinks, like bottled water or juice, for their kids.

“If kids grow up without carbonated soft drinks, the likelihood that they are going to grow up and, when they are 35, start drinking is very low,” Gary Hemphill, managing director of research for the Beverage Marketing Corporation, told the Times.

Big soda companies are struggling with America’s changing beverage tastes, even though most of them sell bottled water, which is increasingly popular with health-conscious consumers. The Times said:

Bottled water is a less reliable line of business for them. Single-serving bottles of water, like Aquafina from PepsiCo and Dasani from Coca-Cola, earn margins similar to those of soda, but customers appear to have less brand loyalty to water brands than to Coke or Pepsi. It’s harder for the companies to compete in the grocery store, where low-margin companies that specialize in water are able to price large multipacks much lower than the soda bottlers want to sell them.

Check out “What’s Really in Your Soda?”

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