NEW YORK (AP) -- Soft drink sales volume dropped 2.1 percent at retailers last year as people continued to seek out healthier options, such as juices and teas, or soften their spending in the recession.
But sales in dollars rose 1.6 percent to $73.9 billion as prices rose, according to the report issued Tuesday by trade publication Beverage Digest.
The volume decline marked an improvement from the prior year, when total retail sales of soft drinks fell 3 percent. The overall category last grew in the U.S. in 2004 and its volume levels are now the same as from 1996, meaning years of growth have been erased.
Coca-Cola Co. maintained its leading slot with a 41.9 percent share of the market. Overall the company lost 3.9 percent of its volume, and top-seller Coke's volume slipped 4 percent but is still the most popular soda in the U.S., with a 17 percent share.
PepsiCo Inc., the second-biggest drink maker, lost 5 percent of its volume to have a 29.9 percent share. Its namesake cola's volume tumbled 5.5 percent, and now has a 9.9 percent share.
Dr Pepper Snapple Inc. continued growing, improving its volume 4.8 percent to have a 16.4 percent market share. The company's Diet Dr Pepper drink improved its volume 4.8 percent to have a 1.8 market share, while Dr Pepper's share was flat at 6.1 percent of the market.