The main trade association representing Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc., and other beverage companies plans to release a report Monday showing that sales of soda and other drinks in U.S. secondary schools dropped sharply since 2004, in a sign that efforts to improve nutrition in schools are progressing.
The report comes as America's first lady Michelle Obama leads a campaign to combat childhood obesity and as Congress is poised to consider regulating the drinks allowed in school vending machines.
Sales volume of beverages shipped to schools from bottlers fell 72 percent between the first semester of the 2004-05 school year and the first semester of the current academic year, according to the report, which was compiled for the American Beverage Association (ABA) by economic research firm Keybridge Research LLC.
The report showed a 95 percent decline in sales volume of full-calorie soft drinks, such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola, and a 94 percent decline in juice drinks.
Full-calorie soft drinks accounted for just 6.8 percent of beverage volume shipped to schools last semester, while they made up 40 percent of the product mix in 2004.
Shipments of most other types of drinks also fell significantly. Volume dropped 77 percent for bottled tea, 67 percent for sports drinks and 47 percent for diet soda.
Even sales of bottled water and flavored or fortified waters, the most popular drinks now sold in schools, slid 15 percent. The result was an 88 percent decrease in beverage calories shipped to schools, the ABA said.
While state and local restrictions on sales of sweetened beverages in schools are responsible for some of the decline, voluntary guidelines adopted by the beverage companies and their bottlers in May 2006 played a significant role, Susan Neely, the ABA's president and chief executive, said in an interview.
"We've successfully change the beverage landscape in a very meaningful way," she said.