Kowalski’s Markets has found that good things come in small packages, especially in the carbonated soft drink category.
So-called “mini” cans of carbonated soft drinks are the fastest-growing CSD segment at Kowalski’s, Woodbury, Minn. These are 7.5- to 8-ounce cans of popular brands from Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Schweppes that contain 90 and 100 calories, respectively.
View an interactive map showing nine recent bans affecting foods, containers and supermarkets. Click here  to see the map.
While overall CSD sales are down, sales of minis are on the rise at Kowalski’s, according to Dan Klassen, manager of Kowalski’s White Bear Lake, Minn., store.
“People are buying smaller cans to limit their consumption,” he said. “It’s all about the size.”
An eight-pack of minis from Coca-Cola sells for about $2.99 on special at Kowalski’s, he said.
Klassen didn’t provide exact sales figures, but said the cans are performing so well that Kowalski’s has reduced space for 2-liters to make room for more mini cans. The minis typically get about 6 linear feet within their respective brand.
Kowalski’s focus on mini cans comes at a time when the size of soft drinks is at the heart of a controversial ban set to take effect in New York City next month.
As part of an effort to combat obesity, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has called for a ban on the sale of all sugar-sweetened beverages — soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened teas, coffees and fruit drinks — in containers larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, food carts, fast-food restaurants, movie theaters, stadiums and sports arenas.
Opponents have asked a judge to delay the planned March 12 enforcement date until a ruling of a lawsuit that was filed against the measure.
While supermarkets aren’t among the businesses included in the ban, the proposal marks yet another attack on soft drinks, especially CSDs.
But CSD marketers are fighting back. Last month, the Coca-Cola Co. launched an advertising initiative aimed at reinforcing its efforts to find solutions to obesity.
The ads emphasize that all calories count, “no matter where they come from,” and stress the importance of balancing calories with physical activity. They stress that moderation is key, stating that a can of Coca-Cola has 140 calories.
Portion-controlled carbonated soft drinks are also addressed. An ad points out that Coca-Cola is expanding distribution of its 7.5-ounce mini cans, which are available for many of its full-calorie beverages, including Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta and Seagram’s Ginger Ale. The mini cans will be available in more than 90% of the country by the end of this year, according to the ad.
PepsiCo, like Coca-Cola, has addressed obesity by promoting the balance between food intake and output, investing in sweetener technologies and expanding its assortment of lower-calorie products.
PepsiCo also offers portion-control 8-ounce cans of its popular brands. Each contains 100 calories.
While the minis perform well, the larger sizes remain the biggest part of the CSD business at Westside Market NYC, a four-store independent in Manhattan.
For this reason, Ian Joskowitz, Westside’s chief operating officer, wants all packaging sizes to remain available for consumers in foodservice and at retail.
“How long will it be before they start telling people they can’t buy a 5-pound bag of sugar?” Joskowitz asked. “Or will they ban whole milk because it’s high in fat? Where will it end?”
Westside Market isn’t affected under the Bloomberg proposal. Still, Joskowitz fears the ban, if enacted, will set a dangerous precedent for all types of food operators.
There’s nothing wrong with government educating people about how to have a sensible diet. But bans are not the answer, Joskowitz said.
“When government starts legislating what people can and cannot eat, it becomes a slippery slope,” he said.
Blog: Keeping Up with Energy Drinks 
Plus, he said, the ban is full of loopholes.
“What’s going to stop someone from buying two smaller cups, rather than one larger cup?” he asked.
Tom Pirko, president of Bevmark Consulting, Buellton, Calif., agreed that the ban would not limit consumption.
“People can simply go back for a refill, or buy two cups at a time,” he said. “It won’t moderate their
behavior at all.”
Regardless of what happens on the foodservice side of the business in New York City, it would be wise for
supermarkets not to take sides in the political battle.
Supermarkets should continue promoting large-size soda bottles, and let the consumer decide what they want to buy.
“Consumers will tell you what they want,” noted Pirko.
He is confident that the nostalgia of the Coke and Pepsi brands will play in the favor of the soda companies.
“Coke and Pepsi have been part of the childhood and culture of most people,” he said.
Report: More Older Men Drinking Soda
CHICAGO — Men ages 55 and older are driving growth in the male consumer base of the carbonated soft drink market, according to a report from research firm Mintel.
Among men aged 55+, the incidence of drinking diet cola increased from 34% in 2005 to 44% in 2011 and that of drinking diet non-cola grew from 23% to 29% during the same period. In contrast, the incidence of drinking diet soda declined by 8 percentage points each among men ages 18 to 34 and 35 to 54.
“The findings also suggest that diet brands targeting men may want to include older men in their marketing push, a strategy that most brands have eschewed in diet soda marketing,” the report states.
Among other results:
• 48% of all soda drinkers report that soda with artificial sweeteners has an aftertaste compared to regular soda, and 37% say that diet soda is unhealthy because it contains artificial sweeteners.
• More than half (56%) of all soda buyers disagree with the statement they have been buying cheaper brands of soda since the recession.
• More than two-thirds (68%) of all soda buyers report purchasing multipacks.
From 2009 to 2011, regular carbonated soft drinks, which accounted for 62.8% of the total market sales in 2011, declined by 1.9% to $27 billion. The diet carbonated soft drink segment, which accounted for 34.9% of total sales, exhibited a 1.8% decline. The smallest segment, seltzer/tonic water/club soda, exhibited nearly 10% growth from 2009 to 2011, but the segment sales only accounted for 2.2% of the total market in 2011.
Read more: Sparkling Waters Offer Soda Alternatives 
From 2009 to 2011, the volume decline was higher for diet soda compared to regular soda. Regular soda volume declined by 4% while that of diet soda decreased by 5% in food, drug and mass channels. While some avoid regular soda because it’s higher in sugar and caloric content, others don’t buy diet soda because they don’t like the taste or are fearful of health effects of artificial sweeteners, according to Mintel.
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