How low and no can you go?

low sugar soft drinks

Soft drinks category growth is now dominated by low and no sugar products, with the major manufacturers offering plenty for retailers and customers to get stuck into.


Since long before the ‘sugar tax’, the trends in the soft drinks category have all been heavily towards low and no sugar products, with more than half of new propositions launched in 2019 low or no sugar. Indeed, of the 11 NPD lines that achieved sales of more than £1m, eight were under the sugar tax threshold. It’s no surprise then that zero sugar variants are growing at almost 21% [IRI, Sep 2019].

That trend only looks to be accelerating with Red Bull’s latest launch being completely free of sugars. As the UK’s number one energy drink, the company is continuing to help grow the category with the launch of Red Bull Zero.

Red Bull Zero delivers a similar taste to the classic Red Bull Energy Drink but with no sugars, offering a fresh alternative to Red Bull Sugarfree. Demonstrating its understanding of consumer needs and attitudes, the reformulated Red Bull Zero offers shoppers more choice for those moments where they’d rather have less sugar.

Merchandising tips from Britvic
  • Showcase permissible options – Ensure customers are aware of your low and no ranges with POS to call out health credentials. Stock alongside full sugar counterparts to encourage shoppers to make the switch.
  • Highlight top products – Give best sellers additional space and prime positions. Double face if you can.
  • Pair with food – Link your low and no soft drinks range with a healthy food-to-go offering to encourage cross-category sales.

With 65% of people now proactively trying to lead a healthy lifestyle, Phil Sanders, Out of Home Commercial Director at Britvic, sees a big role for soft drinks in helping them achieve that aim: “The categories that have significantly outperformed the market are those that have switched shoppers from standard to sugar free alternatives, and also gained shoppers from other categories.”

Sanders highlights Robinsons Refresh’d as a great example of the company’s commitment to this trend. He says: “Containing 100% naturally sourced ingredients and no added sugar the Refresh’d range has recently undergone a pack update to create strong stand out on shelf and showcase it being low in sugar. With 42% of UK households buying the Robinsons brand and, as the number one squash brand, this refresh will only leverage it further.”

Matt Gouldsmith, Channel Director, Wholesale at Lucozade Ribena Suntory also advises retailers to think carefully about their low and no offer, suggesting Ribena Light and Lucozade Zero, worth £48m, as great ways to capitalise on the ongoing trend towards lower sugar choices.

Another brand well worth backing is Irn-Bru XTRA, which has delivered £13m of sales for Scottish retailers this year and offers choice within the fast growing low calorie carbonates sector.

Adrian Troy, Marketing Director at Barr Soft Drinks, says: “We know the way people live is changing –  health is becoming more important and, especially with younger shoppers, we’re seeing an increase in demand for lower calorie products.”