2018 was an unprecedented year for the soft drinks business as the hottest summer in 30 years and England's World Cup success helped it navigate the introduction of the sugar tax and a CO2 shortage.
Britvic's Soft Drinks Review 2018 showed industry sales of £7.1b a 3.8% increase year-on-year. Of this £4.4b of sales was delivered by licensed premises while foodservice accounted for £2.7b. However the strongest growth in soft drink sales was seen in the delivery and food to go markets as well as coffee outlets and travel hubs.
Rachel Phillips, Britvic's out of home commercial director, said: "2018 was nothing short of extraordinary with a number of factors impacting the soft drinks category.
"We had to contend with extremely cold weather conditions at the beginning of the year, followed by the hottest summer on record for 30 years, which also included the CO2 shortage in early June. Against this backdrop the category delivered a sterling performance and it clearly demonstrates the opportunity that licensed operators and foodservice retailers can unlock."
As the sugar tax was introduced in April just 8.4% of products were liable, with manufacturers also responding to consumer demand for lower and no sugar beverages.
The industry also saw increasing demand from those looking to reduce their alcohol consumption for less sweet offerings for adults.
Phillips added: "The key to unlocking soft drinks sales potential is by understanding the trends that impact consumers today and in the future and our action plan is designed to offer bite size advice to understanding and making the most of these opportunities. We'll be discussing how a focus on health and wellness options can drive growth, while premiumisation of mainstream brands can maximise value from the high volume core. Personalisation has a definite role to play this year and we cannot forget about the increasing number of people looking for experiences to make their out of home experiences truly one-of-a-kind."