As soft drink sales fall, Diet Coke passes Pepsi

Coca-Cola Co. sells the two top soft drinks in the country. Coca-Cola Co. sells the two top soft drinks in the country. (Paul Sakuma/File/Associated Press)
Associated Press / March 18, 2011

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Diet Coke has topped rival Pepsi-Cola for the first time to become the second-most-popular soft drink in the country, behind Coca-Cola.

It marks a victory for Coca-Cola Co. as its sodas now hold the top two spots, beating out its longtime rival PepsiCo Inc.

Diet Coke’s rise reflects a long-term trend toward diet sodas. Ten years ago, only two of the top 10 were diet sodas. Now, four are on the list: the diet versions of Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and Dr Pepper.

Coca-Cola sold nearly 927 million cases of its diet soda in 2010, to Pepsi’s 892 million, a report by trade publication Beverage Digest released yesterday said.

Regular Coke remains far and away the most popular soda, selling 1.6 billion cases.

Overall, US soft drink sales have fallen for six straight years as consumers switched to more healthful alternatives such as juices and tea and cut back on spending in the recession.

While both Diet Coke and Pepsi sold less soda in 2010, the decline was more pronounced for Pepsi.