Market insight: Soft sell

Market insight: Soft sell

Britvic recently released its annual category report, which shines a light on key industry trends and successes in soft drinks in the foodservice and licensed channel. The latest Britvic Soft Drinks 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 £6.9bn and standout growth for foodservice (+2.1%). The year ended with a relatively flat performance (-0.4%), with mixed results in a competitive licensed sector. However, as health continues to grow in importance, the Britvic Soft Drinks Review shows that this presents a prime opportunity for operators to capture the opportunity and plug the gap with premium and healthier soft drinks.

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 and Coke Zero, adding a combined £63m to the channel.
Healthier product innovation from manufacturers accelerated in anticipation of the arrival of the soft drinks industry levy in April this year. 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 report highlights a clear opportunity for operators to shift the dial to low and no-sugar drinks further by striking a healthy balance of choice.

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 from 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 highlights that in order to tap into this opportunity, operators should give the same attention to their soft drinks range as they do the food they offer.

Russell Goldman, commercial director, foodservice and licensed for Britvic GB, said: “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.
“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.”