‘Low and no’ is the way to go

Low sugar products

The growth of the low and no consumer trend across many key categories shows no signs of abating, fuelled in part by product reformulation and NPD from the major manufacturers.


One of the biggest trends of 2019 is one that looks set to run and run long into 2020 and beyond: the growth of ‘low and no’ products. Whether we’re talking sugar, fat, calories or alcohol, shoppers have increasingly been looking to reduce or eliminate consumption as part of a wider drive towards healthier lifestyle choices.

Matt Gouldsmith, Channel Director, Wholesale at Lucozade Ribena Suntory, comments: “In recent years we have seen a long-term trend towards drinks with lower sugar as consumers become more and more interested in living healthier lifestyles.

“Shoppers’ spending on zero and low-sugar drinks has increased by 33% and 29% respectively, showing just how important this segment of the market is. In fact, there is now a higher volume of zero sugar drinks bought than regular [Kantar, May 2019].”

As Gouldsmith intimates, soft drinks has been one category that has been transformed by this trend and he advises retailers to make sure that their range reflects this seismic shift in consumption patterns.

“Our core brands are available in very low or zero-sugar alternatives in the form of Lucozade Zero, Lucozade Sport Low Cal and Ribena Light to offer consumers a full range of choice.

“We advise retailers to take advantage of this range and to stock up on the various SKUs to capitalise on the ongoing health trend in 2020, as we know from case studies and projects we’ve worked on with retailers over the last 12 months that low- and no-sugar drinks have real sales impacts when introduced into convenience stores.”

In one study with an independent store last year, the sales increase following the introduction of a full range of low- and no-sugar soft drinks products was instant, says Gouldmsith. “Lucozade Energy Zero Orange sales went from zero to a full case in its first week,” he comments. “Crucially, other sales across the store’s soft drinks range remained steady during the trial, as customers still had their favourite choice of soft drink easily at hand. By increasing the store’s low-and no-sugar range, sales of other drinks didn’t fall at all.”

LRS has also extended its portfolio with the launch of Ribena Frusion, its first move into the enhanced and flavoured water category. Ribena Frusion is unique as it uses blackcurrant water that has been infused with real fruit. Ribena also unveiled a £6.2m campaign to tap into the enjoyable wellness credentials of the brand and its heritage as the ‘master crafter’ of blackcurrants.

But it’s not just sugar that’s getting edged out these days. A marked shift towards low and no alcohol products was also a feature of 2019 and has the potential to blossom this year.

The tail end of last year saw Scotland’s first alcohol-free brewing company, Jump Ship Brewing, launch its first beer, Yardarm. Launched after a successful crowdfunding campaign, the beer is available in 330ml cans and is described as a “crisp, lively lager with a good balance of malt and hops” but is technically alcohol-free.

Brewed in small batches, Jump Ship Brewing uses natural brewing techniques, combining barley, hops and yeast with soft Scottish water, to create as much flavour as possible.

Sonja Mitchell, a keen sailor, beer-lover and mother of three, decided to ‘jump ship’ from her marketing job to launch the business. Keen to enable more people to enjoy great beer without the booze, Sonja set out to discover if she could produce a world-class alcohol-free beer in Scotland.

Yardarm contains just 40 calories per can with roughly a third of the calories found in an equivalent can of 4% ABV beer. At less than 0.5% ABV, it contains roughly the same level of alcohol as a large ripe banana, apparently.

Even confectionery is being transformed by the low and no trend, as Susan Nash, Trade Communications Manager at Mondelez International, comments: “We’re certainly seeing an increased focus on lower sugar options within snacking categories as the consumer interest in health and wellbeing continues across Scotland. In fact, over a third of consumers are actively cutting down their sugar consumption, making reducing sugar one of the biggest priorities for shoppers going into the New Year.”

Despite this trend however, taste remains a key factor in the shopper’s buying decision so it’s important this is not compromised.

Nash comments: “We’ve recently launched Cadbury Dairy Milk 30% Less Sugar, Maynards Bassetts 30% Less Sugar, belVita Chocolate Chip 30% Less Sugar and Cadbury Hot Chocolate 30% Less – all of which are available now to enable forecourts to tap into the trend towards lower sugar choices.”

Nash advises that sharing bags of confectionery are an important part of a retailer’s range and suggests Maynards Bassetts 30% Less as a great-tasting less-sugar variant of the classic Maynards Bassetts Wine Gums. By displaying the new Wine Gums alongside the core packs, retailers can enhance their current confectionery offering by satisfying their shoppers’ demand for less-sugar sweets. With approximately 19g less sugar per 100g, the new recipe allows consumers to enjoy a less-sugar treat from the classic Wine Gums brand.

Tablets are also an important segment, growing by a significant 6.3% highlighting the shopper demand for this format. Cadbury Dairy Milk 30% Less Sugar is the latest innovation from Cadbury Dairy Milk and will allow retailers to tap into this clear demand with a category-leading brand. Available in an 85g tablet and 35g single bar, Cadbury Dairy Milk 30% Less Sugar contains no artificial sweeteners. The launch follows three years of development by the Mondelez science and innovation teams in Reading and Bournville, the home of Cadbury.

Mondelez has also launched a lower sugar breakfast offering: belVita Chocolate Chip with 30% less sugar. The biscuit includes the much-loved chocolate chip taste but with 30% less sugar, as low sugar content is the most important criterion for breakfast biscuits. Each box contains five packs with four biscuits per pack and will be available at an RSP of £2.

The latest innovation from Cadbury Hot Chocolate, the UK’s number one hot chocolate brand, will allow forecourts to tap into the ongoing consumer trend of sugar reduction by offering the hot chocolate taste shoppers know and love with 30% less sugar.

Available now in 280g jars and with no artificial sweeteners, Cadbury Hot Chocolate Reduced Sugar is prepared by swirling into hot milk for a unique lower sugar hot chocolate drinking experience. The launch is supported by out-of-home and digital marketing activity and will also benefit from the brand’s £1.7m total media campaign.