ABA Comes to Diet Soda’s Defense

Yes, sales are declining, but “industry believes in the soft-drink business”

Published in CSP Daily News

WASHINGTON -- On the heels of multiple reports focused on the decline of carbonated soft drink sales in recent months and years, the American Beverage Association came to the category’s defense this week with a statement noting both the safety of diet sodas and the variety the beverage industry provides.

“Our member companies offer a wide variety of product choices, portion sizes and calorie counts, and continue to innovate with more choices to meet evolving consumer needs,” the association said in its statement. “Our industry believes in the soft-drink business and sees opportunity for continued innovation and growth. Beyond soft drinks, our companies also offer ready-to-drink teas and coffees, water, sports drinks, juices and more.”

The statement was released Monday after a report in the Wall Street Journal noted that sales of low-calorie carbonated drinks are falling faster than other types of beverages. The story cites a Wells Fargo report that states store sales of zero- and low-calorie sodas plunged 6.8% in dollar terms in the 52 weeks through Nov. 23, while sales of regular sodas dropped 2.2%.

The newspaper report cites a handful of other surveys that similarly show diet-soda use on the decline, more and more often citing concerns about artificial sweeteners in the drinks. About that, ABA said: “Low- and no-calorie sweeteners can help reduce calories consumed and aid in maintaining a healthy weight, a position supported by the American Diabetes Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.”

Other points in the ABA’s statement:

*America's beverage companies are making it easier for people and their families to choose a beverage that is right for them by delivering more choices, smaller portions, fewer calories and clear calorie labels.

*Low- and no-calorie sweeteners offer consumers yet another way to enjoy their favorite beverages, while maintaining and managing their weight.

*45% all non-alcoholic beverages purchased today have zero calories.