Carbonated drinks regain their sparkle

The carbonated drinks sector is enjoying a strong uplift in sales, with new product launches having almost doubled in the year to May.

The growth comes despite continuing pressure from anti-obesity lobbyists, with the drinks category bolstered by strong performances from cola and non-fruit carbonate brands.

According to the latest AC Nielsen data, in the year to July 12, market leader Coca-Cola posted a 5.2% growth in value and a 5.6% growth in volume.

This is in line with the overall market performance, with the carbonates sector growing 1.9% in value in the year to July 19 compared to the previous 12 months.

This upward trend has been led by the cola market which recorded a 3.3% year on year increase in value, followed by non-fruit carbonates – with brands such as Irn Bru and Shandy Bass performing well – growing by 2.5% year on year.

New product launches into the carbonates sector have also sharply risen according to the latest Mintel data. While in the year to May 2007 there were 73 launches, in the year to May 2008 this had almost doubled to 129.

Cathryn Sleight, marketing director for Coca-Cola Great Britain, says that the introduction of GDA labelling last year has helped to give consumers “the confidence to choose sparkling drinks”.

“A growing number of consumers are now aware of nutritional issues and want to make their own choices about their diet,” Sleight says.

But not all carbonates are doing well. The value of fruit carbonates has fallen by 1.4% year on year, while lemonade has recorded a 0.4% dip, according to AC Nielsen.

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