Sparkling water is taking over fridge space that used to belong to soda. It’s not a surprise really, given that we’re an increasingly health-conscious nation (in some ways at least). We’re cooling off long days with a bubble rush instead of a sugar one, and we’re avoiding the diet versions now because of artificial sweeteners. We weren’t always like this. I mean, soda consumption went up like crazy from the ‘60s until ‘90s. But then we wised up a bit, and now it looks like we’re finally putting our wallets where our mouths are.
The Cracks in the Soda Empire
While Americans still annually gulp down an astounding 12+ billion gallons of the syrupy sin, soda consumption has fallen each year for more than a decade. It's practically at its lowest level of intake since 1986, according to The Washington Post. In the last 20 years, give or take, regular soda (not the low-fat or zero-calorie business) has decreased by 25% in sales, says The New York Times.
The Seltzer Skyrocket
Yet, while we started turning down soda as an option long ago, there wasn’t exactly the sales infrastructure on the other end. That’s certainly changed with more companies in more markets. Between 2009 and 2014, bottled carbonated water jumped by 56.4%. From 2010 to 2014, sales of Sparkling Ice alone went from $27 million to $550 million. Between 2009 and 2015, LaCroix Sparkling Water sales tripled.
Big Soda’s Next Move
Given all this, it shouldn’t raise eyebrows that The Coca-Cola Company announced in last year’s Q4 that it would begin selling a carbonated version of its Smartwater brand. The company wasn’t totally threatened by still water, but carbonated water, flavored especially, can in some ways replace some of what we as a culture enjoyed about soda in the first place. The numbers have been showing for a good spell, which is why Coca-Cola launched flavored carbonated water under their Desani brand as early as 2013. The same mentality goes for PepsiCo, which, also in last year's Q4, told the public it'd be launching flavored sparkling waters under its Aquafina brand this year.
The times are changing, and it actually looks like it’s for the better—for our bodies, mind, and spirit, anyway. Tastebuds might be kind of bummed.