Soft drinks generated sales of more than £4.1b (+4.3%) in the licensed channel and more than £2.6bn (+10.6%) in the leisure channel last year, according to the 2016 Britvic Soft Drinks Review.
This strong growth was driven predominantly by three major consumer trends, said the company: the increase in social occasions, the delivery of more premium experiences and the rise of the health agenda.
With health a hot topic across soft drinks in 2015 and with sugar a huge focus, low calorie purchases accounted for over a quarter (27%) of soft drinks sales in both licensed and leisure. Low calorie value sales performed particularly well in leisure with growth of 14.4% compared with 9.2% for full sugar equivalents, and packaged low calorie colas performed impressively with 24% growth across both channels. With the health agenda set to continue, the popularity of low calorie products and functional soft drinks looks set to increase still further.
Nigel Paine, GB commercial director, out of home, at Britvic, commented: "2015 was the year when soft drinks made the most of changing consumer purchasing patterns in both licensed and leisure. Shaped by multiple consumer trends, such as on the go, experiential and eating out purchasing, the soft drinks category performed well across both channels, despite poor summer weather reducing footfall to licensed premises.
"In 2016 and beyond, we believe there is a huge opportunity in licensed and leisure to showcase soft drinks as relevant and exciting offerings suitable for consumption across a wide variety of on the go and social occasions, with macro trends showing consumer desire for experience, health credentials and alcohol moderation"