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    Classic Soft Drinks Continue to Fizzle

    Mintel expects continued momentum in popularity of tea, coffee drinks and diet soda.

    CHICAGO -- The quintessential American refreshment—an ice-cold soft drink—is becoming out-of-date. A just-published report from Mintel shows today's adults rapidly switching from soda to other types of beverages.

    From 2003 to 2008, Mintel estimated the regular carbonated soft drink market lost 15.6 million adult drinkers. Just 68 percent of respondents to Mintel's November 2008 survey said they drank regular soda in 2008, down from 76 percent in 2003. During the same period, the number of diet soda drinkers grew—7.8 million more adults reported drinking diet soda in 2008 than in 2003, according to Mintel’s research.

    "Regular soda has taken the brunt of criticism from America's obesity and health issues, because people associate it with 'empty' calories and artificial ingredients," Krista Faron, senior analyst at Mintel, said in a statement. "As health and wellness awareness grows, more people are turning away from old-fashioned pop and looking for healthier, lower-calorie drinks, as well as drinks that offer the functionality to meet their specific lifestyle needs."

    The greatest changes in U.S. drinking habits have occurred outside the soft drink market. There’s been rapid growth in the number of people who regularly drink non-soda options.

    According to Mintel:

    -- Bottled Water: 24 million more Americans drank bottled water in 2008 than in 2003.
    -- Energy Drinks: Driven by young adults, the number of energy drink users nearly doubled from 17.4 million in 2003 to 34.5 million in 2008.
    -- Sports Drinks: In the last five years, 11 million adults started drinking sports drinks.

    In Mintel's exclusive consumer survey, one in three beverage-purchasing adults (34 percent) said they're drinking more water and less carbonated beverages to manage weight or other health conditions, compared to 2006. In addition to weight control, many people are concerned about high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, causing them to turn away from all kinds of soda. Mintel found 16 percent of respondents are worried about the health risks of high-fructose corn syrup, while 15 percent said they're drinking less artificially sweetened beverages because of the risks.

    "During the past few years, health and wellness issues have come to the forefront of people's minds, and we see that strongly reflected in their changing beverage choices," Faron said. "Manufacturers have done well at keeping pace with people's new preferences, and we expect continued momentum in tea, coffee drinks and diet soda in particular."

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