Cadbury Schweppes has recommended that both Coca-Cola and Pepsi bottlers make Dr Pepper a priority brand again, following the industry's failure to capitalise on the growing trend to new soft drinks, according to the Wall Street Journal. A number of new products, such as Vanilla Coke and Sprite Remix, have cost Dr Pepper valuable space in store displays and vending machines.
"We see the Dr Pepper crown jewel being squeezed out by innovation," said Rick Wach, senior vice president of marketing at Dr Pepper/Seven Up, a unit of Cadbury. He was speaking at the annual Dr Pepper bottler meeting.
At the conference, the company announced that it was consolidating its North American beverage business to cut costs and to improve its relationship with bottlers and retailers.
The results for Dr Pepper and 7 UP have been disappointing this year. Sales of Cadbury's soft drinks in the US were down 3.8 per cent through August compared to a year ago.
To buck this trend, Cadbury said that it expects to shortly finish consumer testing on a healthier carbonated soft drink. Mike McGrath, president of sales for Cadbury Americas Beverages, said a mid-calorie drink is one option under consideration.
As with other diet drinks, Diet Dr Pepper has bucked the industrywide trend and continued to grow. Sales of the diet drink increased 5.7 per cent in the first eight months of the year compared to a year ago, according to the company.
Dr Pepper is the sixth most popular soft drink in the US. Cadbury Schweppes' other products include 7 UP, Mott's and Snapple. Overall, Cadbury has a 17 per cent share of the US soft-drink market, behind Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. The US soft-drinks business accounts for about 25 per cent of Cadbury's operating profits.