UK: Soft drinks show spirit in the downturn

By | 30 March 2010

Energy drinks led the field as soft drinks remained buoyant

Energy drinks led the field as soft drinks remained buoyant

The UK soft drinks market grew by 2% in value in 2009, with sales in the on-trade climbing ahead of spirits, industry figures show.

Soft drink sales in the UK totalled GBP8.5bn (US$12.7bn) across all channels, up 2% on GBP8.4bn in 2008, according to the 2010 Britvic Soft Drinks Report published today (30 March).

Soft drink sales in the on-trade grew by 3% to GBP2.4bn in the 12-month period, pushing the category ahead of spirits as demand for alcoholic drinks in pubs and bars has fallen.

Murray Harris, sales director at Britvic, said 2009’s soft drinks sales are a “welcome return to form” for the licensed channel.

“After snapping at the heels of spirits for some time, soft drinks have finally moved into second place. Alcohol has been relatively resilient but with more pub visits now centred on food, alcohol sales have taken a decline,” Harris said.

He added: “Soft drinks are a clear profit opportunity for the on-trade, which is demonstrated by its growth that has seen the category overtake spirits to become the second largest in terms of value sales,” he added.

At GBP6.2bn, off-trade soft drinks sales grew 2% as the recession forced consumers to switch their supermarket loyalties in the search for value.

Across all channels, glucose and stimulant drinks were the strong performers, followed by squash, non-fruit and fruit carbonates, juice drinks and flavoured and functional waters.

Smoothies, however, were the hardest hit in the off-trade for the second year running, with a drop of 27% in value and volume as consumers continued switching to cheaper alternatives.

For just-drinks comment on the smoothie market, click here.

The Britvic report also found that Pepsi sales beat those of Coca-Cola in the on-trade in 2009. For more on this story, click here.

Sectors: Soft drinks, The off-trade, The on-trade, Water

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Comment - Soft Drinks & Water - Forwards by moving backwards

Despite the small 2% increase in value sales and 1% in volume recorded in last week's publication of the Britvic Soft Drinks Report 2010, the results for 2009 show there has been a sea change in the UK soft drinks landscape. Along with legislative challenges, argues Annette Farr, this presents a worrying picture.

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