- Store sales of diet sodas tumbled 6.8 percent in the 52-week period ending Nov.23, according to scanner data analyzed by Nielsen.
- That's more than three times the 2.2 percent drop seen in regular sodas during the same period.
- Sales of low- and zero-calorie sodas, once seen as saviors for the soft-drink industry, have fallen faster than those of regular soda for three consecutive years.
Looking at the decline in diet soda sales always involves looking at the health debate involving artificial sweeteners. The soft drink industry and regulators will point out that research suggests the sweeteners are perfectly safe. Health activists point to completely different research that suggests the sweeteners are poison-like. The truth is probably somewhere in between. The truth, also, is that consumers are unlikely to read all the warnings about diet soda on the Internet, look around at the millions of their fellow obese Americans and continue to drink this stuff. And the industry needs to come up with something better than bioengineered ingredients that trick taste buds if they want people to feel good about diet drinks again.