Soft drinks sales continue to fizz despite recession

Soft drink sales were resilient in 2010 despite a long winter and tough economic conditions, according to the 2011 Britvic Soft Drinks Report.

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Take-home sales once again drove the market and grew by 6.6% in value to £6.6bn. The on-premise category grew only a modest 0.9% in value to £2.8bn as consumers chose to stay in at home.

Cola remained the largest sub-category in the total market and grew substantially across all channels. In take-home, Coca-Cola brands dominate the category and grew 8.3% to £1.09bn.

Pepsi brands were the best-performing in the Cola category last year and marked the highest value growth at 13%, largely fuelled by the success of its Pepsi Max brand which increased sales by 19% in 2010.

Pepsi also performed well in the on-premise sector and reamins the top the on-premise brand, above Coca-Cola for the second consecutive year.

Glucose stimulant drinks marked double-digit growth in the take-home sector last year and increased value by 18.7% to £674m. The sub-category now has 10.2% market share in the take-home sector.

The strong glucose stimulant drink performance was fuelled largely by Glaxo SmithKline’s Lucozade which rose 9% to £240m, dominating with over a third of the category’s market share. Another strong performance came from relative newcomer Monster which grew 239% to £24m.

Innocent entered the top 10 take-home brands for the first time, despite the smoothie sub-category only holding a 2.1% share of the total take-home market. The brand marked a 12.4% increase in value to £111m.

Cold hot drinks was the top performing sub-category of last year in the take-home sector, it grew 92.7%, following a 9% decline in 2009.

The growth was driven by sales of Lipton Ice Tea, which were up 102% in value helped by a summer sampling campaign. New arrivals Starbucks Discoveries and Starbucks Double Shot also increased the category’s expansion.

Dairy and dairy subsitutes was the only sub-category in the take-home market to decline in 2010. Its value was down 2.6% compared to last year’s 5% growth which the report says was due to economic worries pushing health down the agenda.

The biggest brand of the dairy and dairy subsitute category Actimel declined in value by 9%, which led to its drop out of the top 10 take-home brands’ leaderboard. Muller Vitality and Frijj also saw value declines of 25% and 7% respectively.

Overall, impulse sales grew about 7% in value and overtook the grocery multiples sector as consumers focused more on “top up shops” instead of stocking up for longer periods. As a result, single-serve formats became more popular in 2010.

Britvic customer management director Murray Harris says: “In 2010 soft drinks continued to go from strength-to-strength in the take-home channel, in spite of economic uncertainty.

“Although people continued to be extremely careful about where and how they spent their money, they clearly saw soft drinks as an affordable treat, especially for those big nights in.”

The annual Britvic Soft Drinks Report 2011 is based on independent Nielsen and CGA market data.

Top 10 take-home brands by value (Nielsen Scantrack, MAT 25 December 2010) See table below.

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