It’s time to raise a glass and cheers to another stellar year for the beverage market. According to preliminary data from New York-based Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), the U.S. liquid refreshment market (LRB) saw a retail sales increase of 3.8 percent in 2018 while volume was up 2.2 percent for fiscal year.
Citing a variety of reasons — bottled water’s robust growth and continued economic growth — BMC reports that LRB volume neared 33.9 billion gallons while dollar sales were just shy of $180 billion. The market research firm credited this performance to growth within the niche/emerging beverage categories as well as positive performance from many of the established beverage markets.
“All but one segment of the liquid refreshment beverage market enlarged retail sales in 2018, with ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee and tea, bottled water (conventional and value-added), energy drinks, sports drinks, and carbonated soft drinks showing growth, and only fruit beverages declining,” BMC states in a May press release.
Retail dollars were led by value-added water, which was up 16.6 percent. This was the only beverage segment to post double-digit dollar sales growth. Bottled water also had a strong year with retail dollars up 7.3 percent; however, the market research firm does note that this is a deceleration to last year’s performance. Other segments that saw high single-digit dollar sale gains were energy drinks (8.4 percent) and RTD coffee (7.9 percent).
For 2018, carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) had a mixed year as volume sales essentially were flat but dollar sales were up. “Carbonated soft drinks’ retail dollar sales grew by 2.4 percent even as volume declined slightly as beverage companies continued to downsize packages and introduce more no-sugar offerings in response to consumers’ desire for less sugar,” BMC states.
With CSD volume holding steady at 12.2 billion gallons and dollar sales up, this marks the category’s best performance since 2005, the market research firm notes. Despite the attention that CSDs might get in relation to volume sales performance, the category still supplies many of the top brands in the beverage market.
“Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola retained their usual first and second positions among the 10 leading beverage trademarks in 2018, with Mountain Dew and Dr Pepper claiming third and fourth place. Coca-Cola and Dr Pepper both recorded modest volume growth during the year, while Sprite (ranked seventh) grew relatively quickly,” BMC states.
At No. 5, Gatorade was the only performance beverage within the Top 10 of leading beverage trademarks, while bottled water brands accounted for the remaining trademarks: Nestlé Pure Life, Poland Spring, Dasani and Aquafina.
“The beverage market’s accelerating growth in both volume and retail sales is a noteworthy development in a rapidly changing industry,” said Michael C. Bellas, chairman and chief executive officer for BMC, in a statement. “The varied performance of the diverse segments, and the rapid growth of newer ones, is indicative of ongoing changes and beverage companies’ adept responses to consumer demands.”
As we’ve reached the half-way point of 2019, here’s hoping that the beverage market will continue to see success.