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Press Release: U.S. Liquid Refreshment Beverage Market Retail Dollars Grew Rapidly in 2022 Even as Volume Growth Slowed, Reports Beverage Marketing Corporation




Performance in 2022 reflects impact of inflation

NEW YORK, NY, June 2023: U.S. liquid refreshment beverage retail sales grew forcefully in 2022, but volume growth cooled considerably compared to the previous year, according to newly released preliminary data from Beverage Marketing Corporation. After the covid–19 pandemic contributed to slow volume growth and a decline in retail sales in 2020, as consumers spent more time at home, which made a sizeable impact on segments with historically large on–premise consumption, the liquid refreshment beverage market rebounded in 2021. In 2022, amidst pronounced inflation, sales again enlarged though volume barely increased.

Overall, liquid refreshment beverage volume surpassed 36 billion gallons in 2022. Retail sales jumped from $205.4 billion in 2021 to $228.8 billion — an increase of 11.4%. When sales increased at a slightly faster pace in 2021, it was largely because the restaurants, bars, stadiums, theaters and other on–premise venues that were closed or restricted for much of 2020 experienced increased traffic that year. The increase in retail sales in 2021 also reflected, at least in part, higher prices. In 2022, the sales surge was mainly attributable to inflation. All but two of the liquid refreshment beverage segments saw volume enlargement in 2022 and all of them registered sales increases, with three of them charting double–digit growth rates.

After achieving their first increase in volume in 17 years in 2021 following an unusually large decline in 2020, carbonated soft drinks saw very modest growth in 2022. Indeed, the segment's growth was the second slowest of the six segments that grew last year. Volume was 12.1 billion gallons, up from 12.0 billion gallons in 2021. Coca–Cola and Pepsi Cola held onto their usual first and second positions among the 10 leading beverage trademarks in 2022, with Dr Pepper and Mountain Dew claiming fourth and fifth place. Three of the leading carbonated soft drink brands (Coca–Cola, Dr Pepper and Sprite) experienced volume growth; two (Pepsi Cola and Mountain Dew) did not. Coca–Cola and sixth–place Sprite outperformed the overall refreshment beverage market.

Bottled water, the biggest U.S. beverage category by volume, became even larger in 2022. The segment's principal properties — convenient, healthful, natural and calorie–free — continue to attract consumers. Volume enlarged 1.1%, which was slower than in many recent years but still faster than total liquid refreshment beverage volume growth of 0.7%. Retail sales advanced by a double–digit rate slightly higher than the refreshment beverage market as a whole did. Bottled water had four entries among the leading trademarks in 2022, and two of them — Poland Spring and Aquafina — grew.

Though still comparatively small in size, some niche segments once again grew more robustly than most traditional mass–market ones. In terms of both volume and dollars, sport drinks enjoyed the fastest growth of any segment. Sports drink volume swelled by 3.2% while sales rocketed up by almost 17%. Gatorade ranked as the third largest refreshment beverage brand by volume, having leapfrogged over Dr Pepper in size.

Both ready–to–drink (RTD) coffee and energy drinks underperformed in terms of sales, but they ranked second and third fastest, respectively, with regards to volume growth. Value–added water volume grew even more slowly than carbonated soft drink volume in 2022 while the segment's sales shot up by more than 8%. (No energy drink, RTD coffee or value–added water brand ranked among the leading trademarks by volume. No fruit beverage brand did either.)

Fruit beverages and RTD tea were the only segments to see declines in volume in 2022, though both segments' retail sales increased.

Four companies accounted for all of the leading refreshment beverage trademarks. PepsiCo had four brands. Coca–Cola had three while BlueTriton had two and Keurig Dr Pepper had one.

"Whether confronted with a pandemic, various economic stressors or other challenges, the beverage industry manages to adapt," observed Michael C. Bellas, chairman and CEO, Beverage Marketing Corporation. "As prices begin to moderate in the near future, refreshment beverage volume growth should accelerate."

Beverage Marketing Corporation is the leading consulting, research and advisory services firm dedicated to the global beverage industry.


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