Innocent launched the low-sugar Light & Juicy last year

Innocent launched the low-sugar Light & Juicy last year

The Coca-Cola Co's UK smoothie maker, Innocent Drinks, suffered a domestic sales drop last year amid worsening market conditions for still soft drinks.

Innocent, which makes 100% fruit juices and smoothies, posted a 3% UK sales decline to GBP142.5m (US$185m) in 2015, according to accounts filed with Companies House last month. The decline, however was outpaced by growth in European sales, which were up 42% to GBP81.1m.

Overall, Innocent sales increased by 10% to GBP223.6m in 2015. 

The UK sales decline will be a worry for Innocent, which recently dodged further headwinds when a proposed soda tax in the UK excluded pure fruit juices

The UK's total stills take-home market, as measured by Nielsen, declined in value by 3% in the 28-weeks to 10 April, while 100% fruit juices have been affected by sugar concerns from consumers.

Meanwhile, future continental Europe sales could be hit by the UK's decision last month to leave the EU.

Innocent said that consumer needs are "rapidly changing" in the chilled juice category but added that the company is "well prepared" to meet those needs. It said it launched a number of new products in 2015, including a new coconut water, a fruit and vegetable drink for children and the low-sugar Light & Juicy range.

Alongside the UK sales drop, profits were hit by a rise in distribution costs. Operating profits slumped by 20% to GBP10.9m while net profits fell 15% to GBP10.6m.

The European sales increase comes as the company invests more in France, Germany and northern Europe.

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