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U.S. Consumption of Purchased Beverages Declining

CHICAGO — U.S. consumers have been cutting back on purchased beverages for the last decade. There are 72 fewer in- or away-from-home occasions per person annually today than there were 10 years ago, according to The NPD Group. There are still approximately 1,100 beverage occasions per person each year, or about three non-tap water drinks per day.

When consumers purchase a beverage, they turn to coffee, carbonated soft drinks (CSDs), milk, iced tea or bottled water, NPD found.

Brewed coffee and specialty coffee are the No. 1 beverages consumed at home. A wide variety of coffee appliances have enabled gourmet coffee results in-home, and craft coffee brewing, which includes using pour over cones, French presses and vacuum brewers, is how many young adults in the United States brew their coffee there. While brewed coffee and specialty coffee don't hold the No. 1 spot away from home, the segment ranks a respectable second in the top beverages consumed at restaurants and other foodservice outlets.

Despite the decline of regular and diet CSD consumption, CSDs are a top revenue-generating beverage. CSDs remain the No. 1 beverage consumed at restaurants and other foodservice outlets, with approximately 18 billion servings ordered during the year that ended February 2016. CSDs are also the second most consumed purchased beverage at home and take up significant shelf space at many grocery stores.

Milk and iced tea rank third as top beverages consumed in and away from home respectively, but they have not seen the same growth that bottled water has over the last decade. Bottled water is a top growing beverage category both in and away from home and is the only beverage category consumed at home to have a meaningful increase in the past 10 years. It has had an equally strong showing away from home, according to NPD.

Servings of bottled plain and sparkling water ordered at restaurants and other foodservice outlets increased by 12 percent in the year ending February 2016 compared to the same period the previous year, and case shipments of bottled water shipped from broadline foodservice distributors to commercial and non-commercial foodservice outlets increased by 6 percent in in the same period compared to the previous year.

"There are more varieties of beverages available today than in the past in order to appeal to a wide range of needs and wants," stated David Portalatin, vice president, food industry analyst at NPD Group and author of the recently published Eating Patterns in America. "Even though it looks like U.S. consumers are drinking fewer beverages than in the past, there has likely been a migration to tap water due to the recession as well as sustainability concerns with packaging. Have no fear — beverages are very much a part of the American diet."

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