Soda Under Siege

For years, America's thirst for soda seemed unquenchable. But as obesity and diabetes rates soared, experts put much of the blame on sugary beverages. Now, soda consumption has been falling steadily for at least a decade.

Americans drank nearly 18% less soda in 2015 than they did in 2005.

2005

15.3 billion gallons of soda consumed in the U.S.

2015

12.6 billion gallons of soda consumed in the U.S.

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Battling the Bubbles

Soda is subject to sales tax in many states, but Berkeley and Philadelphia have added new and higher excise taxes on sugary beverages.

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Voters in four more cities will consider soda taxes this November, while in Cook County, IL, home to Chicago, county commissioners will vote on a proposed tax.

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Taxes could double the price of a 2-liter bottle of soda.

What a 2-cent-per-ounce tax would mean in Boulder, Colorado:

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Battle Lines

Pro- and anti-tax forces have poured big money into local ballot battles across the country. This is a conservative estimate based on publicly available information.

Soda Industry

Pro-Tax Advocates

$52.2 million

2012–Oct. 17, 2016

$15.05 million

2013–Oct. 17, 2016

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In 2016 alone, the soda industry has spent millions fighting taxes in Philadelphia, Boulder, San Francisco, Oakland and Albany.

$35.4 million

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Michael Bloomberg and Laura and John Arnold have led pro-tax spending this year in the cities considering taxes.

Pro-Tax Advocates

 

 

 

Bloomberg:

$10.3 million

Laura and John Arnold:

$3.9 million

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From Big Gulp to Small Sip

Even when soda-tax advocates lose battles in individual cities, they appear to be winning the public-opinion war. Consumers are moving away from large drink sizes.

2011:

1.25-liter bottle

Sugar:

 

1 teaspoon = 4 grams

1990s:

20-oz. bottle

1950s:

6.5-oz. bottle

2015:

7.5-oz. can

8.5-oz. bottle

1960s:

12-oz. can

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Decline of Soft Drinks

Sales of bottled water grew nearly 8% in 2015 and were projected to reach 12.6 billion gallons in 2016, as less-sugary drinks became more popular.

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Water Beats Soda

For the first time, bottled water sales are projected to surpass soda sales. Water is the #1 preference among Gen Z consumers and 63% of U.S. adults avoid soda and diet soda.

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Soda Under Siege

Sources: Beverage Marketing Corporation; Walmart; Colorado.gov; The Laura and John Arnold Foundation; Bloomberg Philanthropies; Harvard; Coca-Cola; Mother Jones; Business Insider; Bridging the Gap Research; Gallup; Center for Science in the Public Interest; US News & World Report; Beverage Industry magazine; campaign finance reports.

Written and Produced by Food & Environment Reporting Network and SwitchYard Media