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Upstarts in the Cooler

The biggest segments of the cold vault struggled once again in 2014. While carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) and premium beer continued to generate the most sales by a wide margin, CSD growth was completely flat and premium beer sales declined by 2.1 percent.

Other beverage products, however, saw a strong increase in sales on a per-store basis. Ready-to-drink iced tea’s 7-percent increase in average sales per store reinforced its growing popularity and status as a segment retailers can capitalize on, while the growth of bottled water and sports drinks indicates consumers are looking for healthier drinks to go with their better-for-you snack selections. Alternative beverage growth was slightly slower at nearly 5 percent, but the segment still makes up a quarter of dollar sales and 18.5 percent of unit volume.

Overall, packaged beverages increased average sales per store by 3.5 percent. Industry insiders expressed positive sentiment about the future of packaged beverages and expect energy drinks, new package sizes and innovation to continue as key category drivers.

In the beer/malt beverages section, 2014 was a year of ups and downs, with average sales per store increasing 1.4 percent. Premium, budget, popular and non-alcoholic beer all decreased in average sales per store, with budget beer seeing the biggest drop at 7.3 percent.

Other beer types, though, saw marked growth in average sales per store, including microbrews/craft (up 22.2 percent), flavored malt beverages (up 16.6 percent), super premium (up 16.1 percent) and imports (up 11.5 percent).

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