Healthier school of thought

healthier soft drinks

With kids back at school after the long summer break a new sales opportunity has opened up for retailers – and it’s all about offering healthier soft drink alternatives.

It’s a well-understood trend that parents are typically more careful about their children’s diets than they are about their own and this is particularly pronounced when the kids go back to school after a long summer break.

The opportunity to start afresh and put a little extra effort into the lunchbox at the start of a new term presents retailers with a fantastic opportunity to grow sales and basket spend – and the key is offering healthier choices.

“There is no doubt that the health and wellness trend has had a big effect on the popularity and contents of people’s lunchboxes,” says Amy Burgess, Trade Communications Manager at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP). “It has not only influenced consumers’ lunchtime food choices but also the soft drinks they have with it. Consumers are making more considered choices for themselves and their families and are turning to lower or zero sugar products or choosing drinks that are associated with functional health benefits.”

Burgess also highlights how it’s not only the back-to-school occasion that’s being affected by this trend, opening up even more opportunities for retailers: “The Lunchbox opportunity has broadened, covering many more occasions beyond traditional school lunches including at work, college, after-school treat and weekend family lunches whilst on-the-go at a theme park or on a day trip.”

Capri Sun 330ml format is the biggest instant consumption Orange Juice Drink in the market and delivered a value rate of sale growth of 13.3% last year [Nielsen, May 2018], despite the rest of the category being in decline.

Perhaps surprisingly, 75% of consumption for 330ml comes from adults, with most of them aged between 18 – 34 years of age. The variant has become popular in all sorts of lunchboxes and with consumers on-the-go.

“We’ve continued to invest in Capri-Sun innovation and expanded our No Added Sugar and lower sugar offerings, this included the launch of Capri-Sun No Added Sugar Orange-Lemon 330ml last year which offers a low-calorie option, giving health-conscious consumers an exciting new juice drink option,” says Burgess.

CCEP believes it has updated the recipe but without compromising on taste, principally by introducing stevia, the naturally sourced sweetener. That means the regular Capri-Sun variants now contain 50% less sugar, which also has the added benefit of meaning the full Capri-Sun range is Soft Drinks Tax-exempt.

The Capri-Sun Fruity Water range – a blend of 3% fruit juice with water – joined the Capri-Sun portfolio in 2016 and is already worth £2.1m [Nielsen, Mar 2018]. Sales and distribution are up, according to CCEP, and the brand is contributing to the growth of the flavoured water sector with its no added sugar recipe.

Also worth considering is Feel Good for Kids. This is a great product for lunchboxes as it’s school-approved – the drinks are 100% natural with no artificial colours, preservatives or flavourings and no added sugar. Available in Blackcurrant & Apple and Orange & Pineapple recipes, Feel Good for Kids contain 84% juice, making them a healthy alternative to traditional soft drinks.

The Oasis range offers something different, with CCEP rebranding its range of Oasis ‘Lights’ to ‘Oasis Zero’ last year to better communicate the zero sugar formula, while also  launching Citrus Punch Zero.

Last year also saw the launch of two sour Oasis flavours with low calories – Kiwi Apple Sour and Apple Cherry Sour – both designed to help retailers cater to consumers looking for exciting soft drink flavours for their lunchboxes that are low in sugar.

“This year we unveiled a further addition to the Oasis portfolio by introducing a new flavoured water range, Oasis Aquashock,” says Burgess. “With flavoured water sales up 2.8% in the last year [Nielsen, Mar 2018], this new range is exciting consumers who are looking for a healthy, hydrating option in their lunchbox with a twist.

“The new flavoured waters come in two contrasting flavours: a “hot” Oasis Aquashock Spicy Raspberry variant flavoured with fiery chilli, and a Chilled Cherry variant with cooling, tangy lime. There is a demand for innovative and interesting new flavours amongst young adult consumers that these products will allow retailers to make the most of.”

Burgess also highlights Fuze Tea, launched in January this year, as a great option for a healthier lunchbox. A premium, low-calorie blend of fruits, botanicals and tea, the product ticks all the boxes for healthier, tasty options.