Sports drinks suffer sales volume slump in US

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Pepsico Coca-cola Gatorade

Sports drinks appear to have suffered a severe reversal of fortune in the US with volumes going through the floor in 2009.

According to fresh data from the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), sales of sports drinks slumped 12.3 per cent last year in volume terms while the US soft drinks market as a whole contracted 3.1 per cent.

The decline in the popularity of sports drinks was only matched by a 12.5 per cent fall in value-added water sales. The next worst performer last year was ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee – volumes of which were down 12.3 per cent on 2008.

While the functional label helped propel RTD Tea and energy drinks into the territory of positive volume growth, it failed to save sports drinks.

The sports drink market in the US is dominated by PepsiCo brand Gatorade, which has a 75 per cent share, and the Coca-Cola brand Powerade, which holds a share of around 20 per cent.

Gatorade woes

In 2009, it was Gatorade which suffered the worst volume performance according to BMC with a 15.5 per cent decline to 895.8 million gallons.

BMC managing director Gary Hemphill told that the weakened economy had a big impact on Gatorade sales as the brand lost many of its more casual users.

Hemphill said Gatorade also “went through bumps during its brand revamp last year”. ​This may help explain why Gatorade endured a more severe sales volume decline in 2009 than its rival Powerade.

Innovation plans

Last week PepsiCo went on the offensive launching a brand extension program to reinvigorate Gatorade sales. New products and line extensions are planned including a new natural Gatorade range sweetened with stevia and the expansion of the ‘G Series Pro’ line into less specialist distribution outlets.

Hemphill said he expects the innovation plans to result in a significant improvement in 2010 for a brand that delivers profitable volume for PepsiCo.

While Gatorade may have taken a hit in 2010, it still held on to fifth place in the ranking of the biggest soft drink trademarks in the US behind Dr Pepper, Mountain Dew, Pepsi, and Coke.

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