Originally created 02/13/98

Coca-Cola widens lead over Pepsi-Cola



NEW YORK -- Coca-Cola Co. widened its lead last year in the $54.7 billion U.S. soft drink market, but Pepsi-Cola Co.'s Mountain Dew was the fastest growing major brand.

Coca-Cola brands, including Coca-Cola Classic, Diet Coke, Sprite and Barq's root beer, accounted for a record 43.9 percent of the market, said the Beverage DigestMaxwell report released Thursday.

That was up from a record 43.1 percent Atlanta-based Coca-Cola set in 1996.

The market share of Pepsi-Cola brands fell slightly to 30.9 percent, the report said.

Beverage Marketing Corp., a research and consulting firm, found identical changes but estimated Coca-Cola had 44.6 percent of the market and Pepsi-Cola had 30.7 percent.

Pepsi-Cola, based in Somers, N.Y., has been the perennial No. 2 with its Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Slice and Mountain Dew.

Dr PepperSeven Up, a division of Cadbury Schweppes, was third with 14.5 percent.

John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest, attributed Coca-Cola's performance to good marketing, the introduction of the citrus Surge and expanded availability of Barq's.

Among brands, Coca-Cola Classic remained on top at 20.6 percent of the market. Pepsi remained second with 14.5 percent, followed by Diet Coke at 8.5 percent.

Mountain Dew leaped ahead of Sprite and Dr Pepper to claim fourth place with 6.3 percent of the market.