Soft drinks supplier Britvic has released its annual category report, deciphering key industry trends in soft drinks in the foodservice and licensed channel.
The latest review highlights how in 2017 the category benefitted from rising consumer trends, including food-to-go, health and premiumisation, with soft drink sales accounting for £6.9b and standout growth for foodservice (+2.1%).
The key findings of the report were as follows:
Health high on the agenda
In 2017 the category saw a continued shift towards healthy living, with sales of low and no-sugar soft drinks adding £104m sales to the category. This was also evidenced by the positive performance within the no-sugar cola market, which grew by 57%, with Pepsi Max leading the charge with its clear ‘Max Taste, No Sugar' campaign and Coke Zero following, adding a combined £63m to the channel.
Healthier product innovation from manufacturers accelerated in anticipation of the soft drinks industry levy arrival this month. The extent of this reformulation has cemented soft drinks as the leading category and the results achieved have meant that the industry's predicted exposure to the levy has fallen by over £200m. However, with 70% of total soft drinks sales in 2017 from full-sugar drinks, the Britvic Soft Drinks Review highlights a clear opportunity for operators to shift to low- and no-sugar drinks further and strike a healthier balance of choice.
Food-to-go is flourishing
Food-to-go was one of the fastest growing areas for soft drinks in 2017 and soft drinks was the most important drinks category in the occasion (72% of food-to-go occasions included a soft drink, a +1.8% increase vs 2016). Over a fifth of consumers, however, either didn't have a drink or drank tap water when eating out, a trend which has increased year on year. With soft drinks included in over half of all eating out occasions, the Britvic Soft Drinks Review 2017 highlighted that to tap into this opportunity, operators should give the same attention to their soft drinks range as they do the food they offer.
Sensational social experiences
In 2017, consumers went out less often, but demanded more premium experiences when they did. With 65% of people saying they would pay more for a premium product, the industry responded with a third of all new soft drinks product development focused on premium offerings. This allowed soft drinks to gain traction and premium soft drinks grew by +31%, adding £74m in sales value, largely thanks to the growth in mixers (spearheaded by Fever-Tree, which grew by over 65%). This was heavily influenced by the ‘gin effect', where mixers growth complemented the growth of premium spirits.
Russell Goldman, commercial director, foodservice and licensed at Britvic GB, commented: "2017 saw a fantastic performance for the soft drinks category within the foodservice channel. We know how competitive it is out there for outlets, particularly in the licensed channel, so focusing on getting their soft drinks offer right should be a big area of focus.At Britvic we are working hard to help our customers drive profit through their soft drinks sales.
"We believe that the combination of our category insights, broad catalogue of brands and investment in innovation and marketing perfectly places us to help customers win. By getting their soft drinks range right, tailoring it to their customer's specific needs and creating premium experiences with sensational drinks, operators can grow their profits through the soft drinks category."