Oligopoly Of Sugar Water


The Illusion of Diversity, Philip H. Howard

Assistant Professor Philip H. Howard of Michigan State University concludes that approximately 89% of beverage options are controlled by three corporations. 

Many people who haven’t been sleeping under the proverbial rock can name at least two of the three corporations.  

For those who cannot, the top three companies of U.S. soft drink sales are segmented as follows:

   (1.)  42.7%: Coca-Cola’s 25 brands and 139 varieties
   (2.)  30.8%: Pepsi’s 18 brands and 163 varieties
   (3.)  15.3%: Dr. Pepper Snapple Group’s 20 brands and 109 varieties

Rounding out the top ten companies by market share (circa 2008) are the following (see beverage digest):

  (4.)   4.7%: Cott Corp.
  (5.)   2.6%: National Beverage
  (6.)   0.8%: Hansen Natural
  (7.)   0.7%: Red Bull
  (8.)   0.4%: Big Red
  (9.)   0.4%: Rockstar
  (10.) 1.6%: Private label and other

The well-presented chart porn highlights the pseudovariety, or the illusion of diversity.


  1. I thought Red Bull had more market share. It’s ranked 7th but has less than 1% share. I guess that’s your point about market concentration.

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