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As Americans drink less soda, one bubbly beverage is falling much faster than the rest: diet soda.
Since 2005, American consumption of diet soda has fallen by more than 27% - a loss of 834 million cases. In 15 years, the category went from accounting for nearly 30% of all carbonated beverages by volume sold in the US to roughly 25%, according to Beverage Digest data.
And the fall of diet isn't slowing down. Diet brands like Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi have accounted for 94% of all carbonated soft-drink declines since 2010.
"It's a staggering figure," Jonas Feliciano, a market consultant for Beverage Digest, said at the trade publication's Future Smarts conference in New York in June.
The US is turning against sugar-packed sodas, with nutrition advocate rallying against Pepsi and Coke sales of calorie-packed beverages. Diet sodas at first seem like the perfect replacement - a lower-calorie option that people can drink without worrying about their health. But sales are dropping even faster than full-calorie beverages.
If soda giants want their diet business to survive in 2016, then they need to answer one question: Why do customers hate zero-calorie sodas?
Diet soda hit its peak in 2005, when more than 3 billion cases were sold in a year. But as diet sodas peaked, concerns regarding aspartame and other artificial sweeteners were gaining momentum.
While the FDA and most nutritionists agree that aspartame is safe to consume, soda giants began to look for other solutions as sales declined. While Coca-Cola remains committed to aspartame, last August PepsiCo announced that it was cutting aspartame from Diet Pepsi, citing not health concerns, but customer demand.
"Diet cola drinkers in the US told us they wanted aspartame-free Diet Pepsi and we're delivering," Seth Kaufman, senior vice president of Pepsi and Flavors Portfolio, said in a statement. "We recognize consumer demand...
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