Report: 2019 marks largest national reduction in beverage calories consumption

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

©GettyImages / fizkes
©GettyImages / fizkes

Related tags ABA Beverages sugar reduction Bottled water

Per-capita liquid refreshment beverage (LRB) calories have declined 5.6% over a five-year period (from 203 calories per person per day in 2014 to 191.8 calories in 2019), according to the American Beverage Association’s latest Beverage Calories Initiative (BCI) report.

In 2014, the American Beverage Association (ABA), The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Keurig Dr Pepper (formerly Dr Pepper Snapple Group), and Healthier Generation formed the Beverage Calories Initiative (BCI), a commitment to reduce national per-capita consumption of beverage calories by 20% to 162.4 LRB calories by 2025.

From 2018 to 2019, LRB calories fell by 4.8 calories (-2.4%) per person per day, representing the strongest single-year progress toward the national calorie goal since the BCI was launched, and the third consecutive year of notable calorie declines, according to the report​.

“Though we have much to learn in the coming year about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on beverage consumption patterns, Healthier Generation remains committed to its long-term work of ensuring that families across the nation have more access to beverages with little or no sugar,”​ said Kathy Higgins, chief executive officer at Healthier Generation.

2018-2019 change

According to the report –  which measured sales volume data as a proxy for consumption using third-party evaluator Keybridge LLC –  while beverage sales volumes grew in 2019, calories from carbonated soft drinks (CSDs), 100% juices, and sports drinks declined, as per person volumes of no- and low-calorie sodas held steady, and sales of bottled water products grew.

When looking at the average number of calories per 8-ounce calories, the report found a 12.7% reduction in calories driven primarily by continued volume sales growth of water.

The measured progress, which predates the COVID pandemic, comes as the beverage industry has been driving product innovations and marketing toward lower-calorie options. In 2018, more than two-thirds of all new beverage brands introduced were either no-, low- or mid-calorie options. In 2019, more than 55% of beverages purchased were zero-calorie.


“America’s beverage companies are introducing more choices with less sugar and smaller portion sizes than ever before – you can see these changes in the beverage aisle and it’s encouraging consumers to reduce sugar in their diets,” ​said Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of ABA.

Reductions in LRB calories per person still need to accelerate to meet the 20% national calorie goal in 2025. However, if the annual calorie reduction rate achieved in 2019 (2.4%) continues through 2025, a total reduction of more than 18% will be achieved by the end of the BCI commitment, the report noted.


How is the overall trend of sugar reduction in consumers’ beverage choices impacting the kids drinks category? Find out on Wednesday, Nov. 4th​ by registering for the online FOOD FOR KIDS Beverage Trends Panel​, which will gather founders of emerging brands and academia thought leaders to discuss the trends of this market.


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