This calorie-free drink is about to overtake soda as America’s favorite beverage

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For the past several years, multiple outlets have been reporting on the slow death of soda consumption in the U.S. And now, one marketing group is projecting that bottled water could become the No. 1 beverage in America—this year.

Beverage Marketing reports that initial projections show bottled water's sales volume climbed 7.9% in 2015, to 11.7 million gallons. At that rate, it should surpass soda, which saw overall volumes fall 1.6%. Here's the table (CSD stands for carbonated soft drinks):

Beverage Marketing

Bottled water's volume share is now fewer than 3 percentage-points behind soda after climbing nearly 2 points last year.

Beverage Marketing

And here's data from consumer industry analyst group Euromonitor showing similar stats, as well as the growth in bottle water and decline in soft drinks over the past decade



"Consumers have spoken," Michael C. Bellas, chairman and CEO, Beverage Marketing Corporation said in a release. "They've made their preferences clear. The rapid growth in bottled water and functional and niche alternatives like energy drinks expresses a shift away from most large traditional beverage categories."


While this may be good news for America's waist lines, it may not be so great for the environment. As the Christian Science Monitor reports, just 82% of the 42.6 billion plastic bottles purchased every year are recycled, meaning an estimated 18%, or 7.7 billion, are thrown in the trash. That fits in with the current, dismal trends I found in the state of recycling in America.

"Bottled water's opponents also argue that tap water is cleaner and safer. The latter undergoes multiple daily tests by the EPA, while bottled water only has to undergo weekly tests," the Monitor said. "But the inexpensiveness and convenience of bottled water, along with its lack of calories, has led to a massive surge in popularity, especially against soda and other soft drinks."


The share prices of Coke and Pepsi have held steady in recent years despite declining soda consumption, but this is mostly of aggressive diversifying. This week, Pepsi stated that it now gets just 25% of global sales from soda, with just 12% coming from its namesake soda, The Associated Press reported.

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.

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