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Diet Coke fizzes past Pepsi

By Charles Riley, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Score one for the Coca-Cola Company.

Diet Coke unseated Pepsi as the second most popular carbonated soft drink in 2010, according to data from Beverage Digest.

Coke -- the flagship brand of Coca-Cola (KO, Fortune 500) -- is still No. 1, racking up 17% market share last year by selling 1.6 billion cases of soda.

In second place, Diet Coke had a 9.9% market share. Pepsi (PEP, Fortune 500) ended the year with a 9.5% share, a 4.8% decrease in volume over the previous year.

The switch marks a sea change in the industry. According to John Sicher, the editor and publisher of Beverage Digest, Pepsi has held the second position "for decades."

Sicher attributed the decline in Pepsi's market share to its Pepsi Refresh Project marketing campaign, which is focused on community service.

While certainly meritorious, Sicher said that "in the cola wars, it didn't give the Pepsi brand the justice it deserves."

Pepsi representatives were not immediately available for comment.

Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper and Sprite rounded out the top six individual brands.

In 2010, the industry experienced a slight volume decrease, with business declining -0.5%, to a total of 9.4 billion cases. But that loss was much less than in recent years. Total volume has declined since a 2004 peak of around 10.2 billion cases. To top of page

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