Towards the end of the 1990s, more than a decade and a half after Diet Coke was first introduced, Coca-Cola found itself in a rut. The soda maker's best-selling low calorie drink, popular as it had become, appeared to be topping out in reach. The same was true of cola's archrival Diet Pepsi, as well as the rest of the lighter soda business. 

"Sales of dietsoft drinks remain as sluggish as overeaters after Thanksgiving dinner," the New York Times wrote in the spring of 1997.

Reports of diet soda's demise were premature at the time. In the decade that followed, diet sodas grew by more than 30 percent. In 2009, sales pushed above $8.5 billion for the first time.

But America's thirst for Diet Coke and its kin is running dry again—and this time it could be for good.

Sales of low calorie soft drinks in the United States have tumbled by almost 20 percent over the past five years, according to data from market research firm Euromonitor. This year, diet soda sales are on pace to drop another 5 percent. By 2019, they are projected to have fallen off by roughly a third since their peak in 2009.

Some of the biggest brands are also some of the biggest losers in America. Diet Coke, which is the third best-selling soda in the United States, has seen its sales fall off by 15 percent in the past two years, and almost a third since 2005. Sales of Diet Pepsi, the second largest low calorie brand, meanwhile, have plummeted by roughly 35 percent.

Other less popular carbonated low calorie drinks are suffering, too. Americans buy 25 percent less Diet Dr. Pepper and 33 percent less Diet 7-Up than they did eight years back.

Even Coca-Cola Zero, which grew furiously after its launch in the early 2000s, has seen sales slow to a halt in recent years. Last year, the brand contracted for the first time, according to Eurmonitor.

The diet soda slowdown isn't merely an American thing—it's also happening worldwide. Globally, regular Coca-Cola and Pepsi are growing, albeit slowly, while their diet counterparts are shrinking pretty quickly. Sales of each were down almost 20 percent in the decade ended last year, according to Euromonitor.

But the future of diet colas is particularly cloudy in the United States.

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/03/23/america-has-fallen-out-of-love-with-diet-sodas-and-possibly-for-good/?postshare=8411432415523659

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