Britvic’s Soft Drinks Review finds category in good health

Britvic soft drinks

Britvic has released its latest Soft Drinks Review, an annual report which shines a light on key industry trends and successes in the Convenience channel’s Soft Drinks category.

The report reveals that Soft Drinks was one of the top performing categories within Convenience in 2017 and continued to be a key driver of footfall to c-stores. Soft drinks featured in 20% of all convenience shopping baskets, making it the No.1 category purchased, ahead of Newspapers and Milk for the fourth year running. As a result, the category grew in value by 2.3% to be worth £2.1bn, reflecting its ability to successfully evolve to meet changing consumer needs including the growing demand for healthier soft drinks.

Health continued to be one of the defining trends for soft drinks last year. Manufacturers showed their commitment to providing healthy alternatives, with Britvic alone removing more than 20bn calories since 2013 on an annualised basis to help offer consumers the choice of healthier alternatives.

In 2017, sales of diet soft drinks, including low calorie and low sugar drinks, drove absolute value sales growth across all the sub-channels, increasing by +12.3% and adding £49m in value sales to the category. This health-focused trend was particularly prevalent in the immediate refreshment segment, which enjoyed +12% sales growth in diet products, while standard experienced a slight decline of -0.8%.

Additionally, the forthcoming sugar tax put an ever-bigger focus on health, encouraging suppliers to undergo vigorous programmes of product reformulation. The results achieved have meant that the industry’s predicted exposure to the levy has fallen by over £200m.

Historically cola has been the largest sub-category within soft drinks and 2017 was no exception, as the cola segment grew by £21m, equating to 4.2% value growth in convenience, with 76% of this growth coming from the diet segment. Leading no sugar cola brands such as Pepsi Max and Coke Zero reaped the rewards of the continued demand for healthier soft drinks, with sales up by £11m and £8m respectively, year-on-year.

Other sub-categories which continued to see growth included ‘Water Plus’. Meanwhile, energy drinks saw the biggest absolute growth of all sub-categories, up £31m, driven predominantly by strong performances of the Monster, Rockstar and Red Bull brands.

The report also found that for the younger generations , purchasing a soft drink was the number one reason for visiting a convenience store. In 2017, nearly 50% of all Generation Z shoppers (16-24 year olds) bought a soft drink when visiting a convenience store, increasing to over 50% when they purchased food to go.

Trystan Farnworth, Commercial Director, Convenience & Impulse at Britvic, commented: “There’s a really positive story to tell for soft drinks in Convenience at the moment. The results showcased in this year’s review show that the category is in good health. Britvic are well placed to navigate through the Soft Drinks Industry Levy and we’d encourage all convenience retailers to look upon the levy with a view of maximising the opportunity to provide healthier choices, rather than minimising the impact.

“It’s also interesting to see the opportunities that no sugar cola and Generation Z shoppers are bringing to soft drinks. We also believe that there is plenty of potential for soft drinks category growth to continue, providing that manufacturers and retailers remain agile and can successfully adapt to meet the ever-evolving demands of consumers.”