Softly does it: trends in soft drinks

13 February, 2015

Soft drinks and energy drinks have been hitting headlines for all the wrong reasons lately, with sugar and caffeine being blamed for all manner of ills. But the market remains buoyant.

The latest figures, from Zenith International in the British Soft Drinks Association’s UK Soft Drinks Report 2014, show it grew 3% to £15.5 billion in 2013, while volumes climbed 2% to 14.5 billion litres.

Here OLN looks at some of the key trends that could give your soft drinks sales a boost.


They make up just 3% of the market but grew by more than 5% in 2013 – easily outstripping the rest of the carbonates section. With eclectic marketing, high-profile sponsorship deals and regular media coverage, energy brands such as Red Bull, Monster and Relentless are often more visible than other soft drinks.

Monster’s sales grew 10% to more than £100 million in 2014 thanks to new variant Monster Assault and growing interest in multipacks, while Relentless grew 5% on the back of marketing initiatives such as the Relentless Ultra Presents Soundchain TV show on MTV Music with brand ambassador Zane Lowe.

This year Monster is releasing a 55cl can called Mega Monster with a resealable cap, a format that has found success in the US and South Africa.

Relentless will release sugar-free variant Relentless Mango Ultra.

A spokesman for brand owner Coca-Cola Enterprises said: “As well as meeting demand for zero- calorie drinks, the product has been developed following our own research which showed that mango flavour has the widest consumer appeal and offers something other brands don’t.”


“Low-calorie or sugar-free energy drinks are going from strength to strength, so it’s advisable to stock a good choice of lighter variants,” says a Coca-Cola Enterprises spokesman.

Shloer is taking advantage of the trend with Shloer Light, a low-calorie variant of Shloer Red Grape and White Grape with no added sugar, sweetened with stevia and rolling out in supermarkets this month.

The drink has half the calories of the original version and retails for the same £2.25 as the rest of the Schloer 75cl range.

Amanda Grabham, marketing director for soft drinks at brand owner SHS Drinks, says: “In developing Shloer Light we were looking to meet the needs of consumers who are conscious of their calorie intake, but still want to treat themselves.

“This has been driven by requests from existing and potential Shloer consumers as well as our commitment to the Public Health Responsibility Deal. We have also been working closely with Tesco to assist it in achieving its 10-point ‘fight obesity’ plan, and made Shloer Light available to Tesco on an exclusive basis for an initial three-month period.”

A new naturally low- calorie ice tea is also aiming to give British consumers a healthier alternative to standard soft drinks.

Virtue Ice Tea comes in two flavours – Lemon and Strawberry & Peach – and retails for £1.35-£1.49 for a 33cl can. The drinks are sweetened with fruit extract and stevia and contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.


Halewood International has introduced a 70cl sharing bottle for its adult soft drink John Crabbie’s,

and marketing director Richard Clark says the format is performing well in multiple grocers, while the 33cl screwcap bottles do well in convenience stores.

Clark says: “Different formats and pack sizes are crucial in the off-trade. A brand’s decision on pack sizes is driven by occasionality and how consumers are accessing the brand. “

Halewood International has recognised a demand for a 70cl sharing-at-home format, and for the 33cl single-serve bottle for the John Crabbie’s brands in out-of-home, whereas the 50cl PET format is more suited for those consumers on the move.”

The brand has more new product development in the pipeline this year and plans to invest in above-the- line support.

CCE has also noted growing interest in multipacks as more consumers buy drinks to take home and have later rather than straight away.


Fruity variants have done wonders for cider, spirits and even beer – so it’s no wonder they’re working well for soft drinks too.

Levi Roots is growing its range with a new watermelon and guava- flavoured drink called Jamaican Sunset, targeted at convenience stores through cash and carries in a £1 price-marked pack. The flavour is also available in a 2-litre bottle in supermarkets.

Fanta is replacing Peach & Apricot with Apple & Sour Cherry flavour, in a bid to drive interest in the brand by rotating flavours.

The drink comes in a range of pack formats, including a 33cl can price-marked at 59p and a £1 price- marked 50cl PET.

Qcumber, the adult soft drink made with cucumber essence and sparkling water, is launching a mint variant in 33cl and 75cl glass bottles.

Creator Graham Carr-Smith says: “Mint is a much under-used drink flavour and, as with cucumber, we’re giving consumers the opportunity to experience a familiar taste, but in a refreshing soft drink context.”

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