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Gulp! Soda Consumption Declines to Lowest Level Since 1996

Tuesday, 26 Mar 2013 | 1:52 PM ET
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U.S. soda consumption fell in 2012 for the eighth-straight year, this time by 1.2 percent to levels not seen since the Clinton administration, according to new beverage statistics.

Consumption per person fared even worse, declining to the lowest level since 1987 as consumers increasingly turned to energy drinks and bottled water to quench their thirst, according to Beverage-Digest data.

During the majority of the 1990s, the category's volume grew about 3 percent a year, but then growth began to slow in 1999. Volume has been declining since 2005. This year's level marks the lowest since 1996.

The industry's decline comes amid several prominent efforts to reduce soda consumption, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's attempt to limit soda sizes and first lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" program that encourages children to pass on soda. (Read More: Judge Invalidates NYC Sugary Drink Ban)

As sales have fallen, top carbonated beverage makers are brainstorming new ways to boost sales. Last week, PepsiCo, the second-biggest producer following Coca-Cola, unveiled its first new bottle design in 17 years. (Read More: Pepsi's New Look)

Companies are also turning to the power of celebrity. After Pepsi signed a $50 million deal with singer Beyonce, Coca-Cola recruited fashion designer Marc Jacobs to serve as the creative director of Diet Coke.

The soda decline moved in tandem with a rise in energy drink consumption last year. Monster Beverage volume rose 19.1 percent while Red Bull's surged 17 percent and sales of Rockstar jumped 8 percent despite concerns about adverse health effects from energy drinks. (Read More: Energy Drinks Linked to Heat Rhythm Disturbances)

By CNBC's Katie Little; Follow her @katie_little_

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com.

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