As the world entered the second year of the pandemic, the U.S. beverage market rebounded in 2021 following the soft performance of 2020, according to data from New York-based Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC). The market research firm projects that total U.S. beverage market volume increased 2.1% in 2021 posted a 0.1% volume growth in 2020. However, it notes that revenues outpaced volume growth, mostly due to inflation, with wholesale dollar growth up 6.1%.

BMC found that most large mass market refreshment beverage categories struggled in 2021, with the exception of bottled water, which saw volume up 4.5%. Carbonated soft drinks also reversed a 16-year trend of volume declines, as the category saw volume sales up 2.2% in 2021. Niche categories fared better in 2021 with ready-to-drink coffee volume up 20%, energy drink volume up 14.9%, sport beverage volume increasing 12.2% and value-added waters seeing volumes up 11.3%. In total, volume for liquid refreshment beverages were up 4.2% in 2021, according to BMC data.

In the beverage alcohol market, distilled spirits was the top performer in terms of volume. The category saw volume up 5.4% while wine volume was up 1.9%; however, the beer volume for 2021 was down 0.2%, according to BMC data. In terms of total volume for beverage alcohol, volume was up 0.5% for 2021.

Taking all of these factors into account, Beverage Industry’s Top 100 Beverage Companies report, based on 2021 fiscal year sales, reflects the ebbs and flows that different factions of alcohol and non-alcohol beverage market experienced this past year.

The Top 100 Beverage Companies of 2021
1 ANHEUSER-BUSCH INBEV LEUVEN, BELGIUM Beer, Hard Cider, Flavored Malt Beverages 54,304
2 NESTLÉ SA VEVEY, SWITZERLAND Coffee, Water, Juice/Juice Drinks, RTD Tea/Coffee, Energy Drinks, Sports Drinks, Dairy-based Drinks, Beverage Mixes, Liquid Concentrates 50,950
3 THE COCA-COLA CO. ATLANTA Soft Drinks, Water, Sports Drinks, Juice/ Juice Drinks, RTD Tea/Coffee, Liquid Concentrates, Dairy-based Drinks 38,655
4 PEPSICO INC. PURCHASE, N.Y. Soft Drinks, Sports Drinks, Water, Energy Drinks, Juice/Juice Drinks, RTD Tea/Coffee 35,763
5 HEINEKEN N.V. AMSTERDAM Beer, Hard Cider, Spirits, Wine, Soft Drinks 26,583

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Significant Events in 2021

  • The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, announced that it has acquired full ownership of BODYARMOR, a line of sports performance and hydration beverages that is incremental to the Coca-Cola beverage portfolio and has significant potential for long-term growth. In 2018, Coca-Cola initially acquired a 15% stake in BODYARMOR with a path to full ownership, based on a pre-determined discount. Coca-Cola is paying $5.6 billion in cash for the remaining 85% of the company. BODYARMOR will be managed as a separate business within Coca-Cola’s North America operating unit and will continue to be based in New York. Under a separate consulting and transition-services agreement, the executive leadership team, including Co-founder and Chairman Mike Repole and President Brent Hastie, has agreed to continue to work to maintain the brand’s successful momentum in the market. They are committed to executing BODYARMOR’s 2022 plan and working on vision and strategy for 2023 and beyond. Repole stated: “Ten years ago, we set out with a vision to create a better-for-you sports drink with a goal of becoming the No. 1 global sports drink. Our talented leadership team under Brent Hastie, our 400 dedicated employees and incredible Coca-Cola bottling partners have helped us build this remarkable brand. If it wasn’t for Kobe Bryant’s vision and belief, BODYARMOR would not have been able to achieve the success we had. I couldn’t be more excited to become part of the Coca-Cola family and set our sights on the future.”
  • PepsiCo Inc., Purchase, N.Y., has entered into an agreement with PAI Partners (PAI) to sell Tropicana, Naked and other select juice brands across North America, and an irrevocable option to sell certain juice businesses in Europe, which will result in combined pre-tax cash proceeds of approximately $3.3 billion while retaining a 39% non-controlling interest in a newly formed joint venture. PAI, a leading private equity firm with strong experience in the food and beverage space, will be the majority shareholder of the transferred business, with PepsiCo retaining exclusive U.S. distribution rights to the portfolio of brands in its chilled direct-store-delivery for small-format and foodservice channels. “This joint venture with PAI enables us to realize significant upfront value, whilst providing the focus and resources necessary to drive additional long-term growth for these beloved brands,” said PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Ramon Laguarta in a statement. “In addition, it will free us to concentrate on our current portfolio of diverse offerings, including growing our portfolio of healthier snacks, zero-calorie beverages, and products like SodaStream which are focused on being better for people and the planet.” Frédéric Stévenin, a Managing Partner at PAI, added: “We are delighted to bring these storied beverage brands into the PAI portfolio through another partnership with a leading global food and beverage company. We believe there is great growth potential to be realized through investments in product innovation, expansion into adjacent categories, and enhanced scale in branded juice drinks and other chilled categories. We are also thrilled that PepsiCo will remain involved as our partner in the joint venture as we execute our plans to drive the future success of these brands.”
  • Constellation Brands Inc., Victor, N.Y., acquired a minority stake in the fast-rising rosé label, La Fête du Rosé ― a brand created to cater to diverse drinkers who share common interests across travel, food, experiences and wine. The investment was made through Constellation’s venture capital group and represents the first company to receive investment dollars as part of Constellation’s Focus on Minority Founders initiative, which plans to invest $100 million in Black, Latinx, and minority-owned businesses by 2030, it says. “We’re thrilled to jumpstart our Focus on Minority Founders initiative with an investment in a fantastic consumer-oriented brand and with a dynamic and proven industry leader behind it in Donae Burston,” said Bill Newlands, Constellation’s president and chief executive officer, in a statement. “Minority-owned businesses are under-represented in our industry and there is a real need to make it more equitable for those businesses to receive access to capital. Constellation Brands also acquired a minority stake in Sapere Aude Sparkling Wine as part of Constellation Brands Ventures’ Focus on Minority Founders initiative. “We’re excited to continue our Focus on Minority Founders initiative with an investment in a really unique brand in Sapere Aude,” said Jennifer Evans, vice president for Constellation Ventures, in a statement. “What Pampata and Dave have started to build is a great representation of what we’re trying to achieve with our ventures portfolio and initiatives, which is to work with innovative leaders building brands that are on the forefront of emerging consumer trends and have a true point of differentiation in the marketplace.”
  • The company formerly known as Nestlé Waters North America announced that it has begun operating under a new corporate name: BlueTriton Brands. This announcement follows the completion of its acquisition by One Rock Capital Partners LLC, in partnership with Metropoulos & Co., from Nestlé S.A., on March 31, 2021. “I am very excited to join with my One Rock partners and lead this company as we begin a new chapter together as BlueTriton, building on the rich heritage of our historic, iconic and beloved brands,” said Dean Metropoulos, chairman and interim chief executive officer of BlueTriton Brands, in a statement. “We have all become increasingly aware of how critical our products and their rapidly evolving innovations are to human wellness and our communities. Our unique U.S. and Canadian platforms provide us opportunities to touch every consumer, in all facets of their lives, and we look forward to strengthening our bonds with consumers and communities by leading with innovation and relevance.” BlueTriton consists of the former United States and Canadian operations of Nestlé Waters and offers an extensive portfolio of highly recognizable, responsibly sourced, and sustainably packaged regional spring water and national purified water brands including Poland Spring Brand 100% Natural Spring Water, Deer Park Brand 100% Natural Spring Water, Ozarka Brand 100% Natural Spring Water, Ice Mountain Brand 100% Natural Spring Water, Zephyrhills Brand 100% Natural Spring Water, and Arrowhead Brand Mountain Spring Water; Pure Life and Splash. Continuing a longstanding commitment to environmental leadership, the company has 27 production facilities across North America, 16 of which are Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) certified across 15 sites, with five of the certified facilities being AWS Platinum, the highest-level certification. The company also operates the direct-to-consumer and office beverage delivery service ReadyRefresh, a certified CarbonNeutral business.
  • Boston-based The Boston Beer Co. and PepsiCo, Purchase, N.Y., announced plans to enter a business collaboration to produce HARD MTN DEW alcoholic beverage. The partnership unites Boston Beer's world-class innovation and expertise in alcohol beverages with one of PepsiCo's most iconic and beloved brands. Adults of legal drinking age will experience the HARD MTN DEW bold flavors and distinctive branding, all with an ABV of 5%. This new flavored malt beverage (FMB) will be marketed to adults of legal age and merchandized consistently with other alcohol beverages. As recognized leaders in the alcohol and non-alcohol industries, Boston Beer and PepsiCo understand the importance of delivering new, break-through innovations to address the changing tastes of drinkers. “We know that adult drinkers' tastes are evolving, and they are looking for new and exciting flavorful beverages. The combination of our experience in brewing and developing the best-tasting hard seltzers and hard teas, and MTN DEW, a one of kind multi-billion dollar brand, will deliver the excitement and refreshment that drinkers know and love,” said Dave Burwick, Boston Beer's CEO, in a statement. Both companies share the same passion for pushing boundaries and anticipating what consumers want, which has driven decades of bringing ground-breaking, innovative beverages to drinkers in the U.S. and beyond. “For 80 years MTN DEW has challenged the status quo, bringing bold flavors and unmatched beverage innovation to millions of fans,” said Kirk Tanner, PepsiCo Beverages North America CEO. “The Boston Beer Co. partnership combines two recognized leaders in our respective industries to address the changing tastes of drinkers and we are thrilled at the opportunity to create HARD MTN DEW that maintains the bold, citrus flavor fans know and expect.”
  • Primo Water Corp., Tampa, Fla., announced that Primo Water North America (PWNA), a wholly owned subsidiary of Primo, substantially acquired all of the assets of The Sweetwater Co. Inc., doing business as Earth2O. The bottled water company is based in Oregon and known for its commitment to sustainable water, environmental responsibility and natural, pure spring water from Oregon's Cascade Range. Earth2O manufactures and distributes spring water to residential and retail accounts in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. The company was founded in Culver, Ore., in 1991 and sources water in the Cascade Mountains. The acquisition will add approximately 9,000 customers to PWNA, strengthening PWNA's footprint in the Pacific Northwest. Customers of Earth2O will continue to be offered Earth2O products and soon will be able to enjoy Sierra Springs, the Primo water brand in the region ― plus, they will have the ability to select additional products for their orders, including sparkling water beverages from Sparkling Ice and other premium water products. “Earth2O shares our focus on offering high-quality products and delivering superior customer service in a way that aligns with our core values of sustainability, healthy living and giving back to our communities,” said Tom Harrington, CEO of Primo Water Corp., in a statement. “The addition of Earth2O expands the Primo footprint and customer density in the Pacific Northwest and furthers our vision of providing pure-play water solutions whenever, wherever and however our customers want them. We are excited to welcome Earth2O customers and associates to our family.”
  • The Yuengling Co., Pottsville, Pa., announced that the brand's flagship beers are officially available across Texas. Millions of beer fans in Texas now have their pick from a selection of Yuengling's renowned beers, including the iconic Yuengling Traditional LAGER, Light Lager 99, Golden Pilsner, and FLIGHT by Yuengling, the Next Generation of Light Beer. “It's an important day for our brewery as we take this large first step in our Westward expansion,” said Wendy Yuengling, chief administrative officer and sixth generation family member of D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc., in a statement. “On behalf of our entire Yuengling family, we are humbled by the opportunity to bring the goods to the Lone Star State. The passion these fans have shown for our beer and our brand brings into perspective the nearly 200-years of hard work and perseverance that have brought us to this point in our company's history. We continue to be inspired by our fans and past generations to brew the best beer possible, and look forward to continuing to do so in this amazing state.” This milestone rollout officially makes Texas the first state in The Yuengling Co. joint venture of D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. and the Molson Coors Beverage Co., Chicago, to increase Yuengling's reach outside beyond its current 22-state East Coast footprint.
  • Bell’s Brewery founder, Larry Bell, announced that he has reached an agreement with Lion, an Australian-based brewer, for the sale of Bell’s. Lion acquired Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing in 2019. The move will see the Michigan-based craft brewer come together with New Belgium ― aligning the two American craft brewers.  “This decision ultimately came down to two determining factors,” Bell stated. “First, the folks at New Belgium share our ironclad commitment to the craft of brewing and the community-first way we've built our business. Second, this was the right time. I've been doing this for more than 36 years and recently battled some serious health issues. I want everyone who loves this company like I do to know we have found a partner that truly values our incredible beer, our culture, and the importance of our roots here in Michigan.” By aligning with New Belgium, Bell's will expand on its own commitments to coworkers, communities, and customers by adopting many hallmark, human-powered business practices, including seeking B Corporation certification, 100% carbon neutrality by 2030, $1 per barrel philanthropy, and 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index.