Few of us need a reminder that times are tough, and the 2023 edition of The Caterer Drinks Guide reflects that, as well as providing some interesting evidence of shifts in consumers' drinking habits that operators may need to factor into their range planning, even after the current downturn has eased.
Sector analyst CGA has provided data comparing annual drinks sales in the on-trade measured to 25 March 2023 to those a year earlier.
While some drinks brands are citing premiumisation as a clear trend, CGA client manager Megan Davies believes the picture is more complex: "While we are still seeing signs of premiumisation across certain consumer groups, polarisation is becoming more prevalent in the market, with some consumers going out less and trading up, while others are going out the same amount as before but trading down."
The CGA figures for the relevant drinks categories, excluding hot drinks, show total drink volumes on the on-trade are up 16.5% this year. The value of total drink sales was up by a stronger 19.2%, from £26,176.8m a year ago to £31,201.7m, which reflects the impact of inflation on prices at least as much as it does a positive consumer decision to trade up.
In addition, CGA has supplied data comparing the three months to March 25, 2023 with drinks sales in the on-trade in the three months to March 25, 2022. This one-quarter data show that the only drinks categories to see both volume and value growth in the quarter were soft drinks, water and the low- and no-alcohol market. Operators will clearly need to factor the significant number of consumers who are foregoing alcohol on some or all out-of-home occasions into their drinks offer.