Keeping its cool in a difficult climate

The UK soft drinks market grew overall by 1.7 per cent in 2009, according to figures in the British Soft Drinks Association’s 2010 UK Soft Drinks Report. The two previous years had seen slight falls, so this was a ‘welcome return to growth’ said the Association.

Total soft drinks consumption was 14,140 million litres, or 229.1 litres per person, with a retail value of £13.224 billion.

Bottled water consumption rose by 1.7 per cent to 2,090 million litres, or 33.9 litres per person. Carbonates built on their growth in 2008 with further growth in 2009 of 2.2 per cent, to 6,065 million litres, or 98.3 litres per person.

Consumption of dilutables grew by 3.1 per cent to 3,350 million litres, or 54.3 litres per person. Fruit juices and smoothies, on the other hand, saw a volume decline of 3.1 per cent, while still and juice drinks rose by 0.7 per cent.

Sports and energy drinks continued to grow in popularity, with consumption up 5 per cent.

Commenting on the findings of the report, BSDA Director General Jill Ardagh said: “Our industry’s success is based on its plans for the future, investing in new products, new ways of working and in the skills of its people. In more ways than one, the soft drinks industry plays a role in the life of the nation.”

In June last year, The British Soft Drinks Association published its second annual sustainability report, showing the progress made by Britain’s soft drinks industry towards its sustainability goals.

The sustainability strategy was adopted in 2008, with the aims of reducing carbon emissions; reducing waste and increasing recycling; reducing water use and reducing the external impacts of transport. A report is made every year on the progress made towards these goals. The 2010 progress report included the following highlights:

• A G Barr undertaking preparatory work for the installation of a 2MW wind turbine at its Cumbernauld factory.

• Britvic switching over to hydrocarbon (HC) as the refrigerant in its chillers: 22% more efficient than the refrigerant gas it replaced.

• Most Coca-Cola factories sending zero waste to landfill.

• A range of projects by Princes expected to more than double the proportion of recycled PET in Princes bottles by the end of 2010 (from a baseline of 2008 usage).

• Tetra Pak expanding the number of local authorities collecting cartons at the kerbside, to make it as easy as possible for consumers to recycle their used cartons.

• Vimto changing from trays to pads for the secondary packaging of its Panda products, resulting in around a 4 tonne reduction in the amount of cardboard used.

• One of the sites manufacturing innocent smoothies reducing its water use by 30 per cent through eliminating inefficiencies.

• Nestlé Waters increasing the proportion of direct deliveries from its Buxton site from 3% to 55% in 4 years, reducing Buxton road miles by 20%, with a typical bottle of Buxton mineral travelling only 135 miles to reach a customer’s delivery point.

Looking ahead

The 2011 UK Soft Drinks Industry Conference will be held at Oulton Hall outside Leeds on 12th and 13th April. With the theme ‘Shaping the future’, the two day event will address the key issues and opportunities facing the industry. Sessions include an industry leadership panel with Coca-Cola, Gerber and GlaxoSmithKline and a focus on the environment with Walmart/ASDA and IGD. There will be analysis of the latest market developments from Zenith International, a keynote address from Coca-Cola Enterprises, discussion on the health agenda with the Department of Health, Food and Drink Federation, Tata and Beneo-Palatinit, as well as an innovator panel with Bottlegreen, Halewood, Maxinutrition and 1HQ plus workshops from FoodBev Media and Zenith.

The conference has become an established networking and knowledge building highlight of the industry calendar and the audience is expected to include senior industry managers, suppliers, analysts and the trade press.

“A strong programme of leading industry figures and opinion formers will provide an excellent overview of current market conditions with many future insights,” commented Zenith Chairman Richard Hall.

As part of the programme, delegates will also have an opportunity to visit the Coca-Cola Enterprises’ Wakefield site.

Organised by Zenith International, this year’s event is sponsored by global ingredients supplier BENEO-Palatinit and global closures supplier Bericap.

Product developments

Made from carbonated fruit juice with absolutely no artificial additives (no added sugars!) SUSO continues to build its reputation as a healthier choice of fizzy drink that young people are actively seeking out for themselves. The recent launch of SUSO Sparkling Tropical (to add to Sparkling Berry, Orange, Lemon and the hugely popular Apple) has further extended the brand’s range, offering a new exciting flavour option for young people in schools. This as we head towards the warm spring/summer we are all hoping for – there’s no better time than the present to say ‘Aloha’ to new SUSO .

Northwest based Thirsty Soft Drinks announced the big launch of what is believed to be the UK’s first FAIR TRADE and Organic Energy Drink (WHITE TIGER) in 250ml cans. WT Classic is a fresh taurine free energy drink which is certified by the international fair trade organization and carries both organic and Fairtrade logos.

WT Slim is said to be the first energy drink with reduced sugar and no artificial sweeteners, with 33% less calories than the leading energy drink. “Free from taurine, it also contains healthy green tea and caffeine from guarana,” said Eric Ellis, Sales Director. The product will be available soon through leading supermarkets, ethical and fair-trade distributors throughout UK and Ireland.

Leading soft drinks manufacturer Britvic and PepsiCo UK have built on the 7UP brand with an impactful redesign of the carbonated drink. Modernising the logo and packaging, the new look reinforces the brand’s belief that ‘Simpler is Better’, embodied in the natural lemon-lime flavour and refreshing bubbles of the £41.1m brand.

The newly designed 7UP range, rolled out to retailers last month, feature on all 7UP cans and PET formats including the recently launched 600ml bottle.

The 7UP logo has been made larger and bolder to increase visibility and recognition of the brand on shelf, while the increased focus on 7UP’s ingredients on pack is designed to make the range more appealing to consumers. The new design will run across the whole range; 7UP Regular, 7UP Free and 7UP Cherry.

Lucy Harman, 7UP Brand Manager at Britvic, commented: “We’re taking a modern approach to redesigning the original lemon-lime soft drink and making the packaging reflect the new ‘Simpler is Better’ proposition. The new packaging looks fantastic on shelf and we’re confident it will stand out to consumers that enjoy lemon-lime drinks, as well as appealing to 7UP’s target market of young adults.

“The new design layout sees the 7UP logo become the focus of the product, while the fresh background celebrates 7UP’s lemon-lime credentials, reminding consumers of 7UP’s crisp taste, whether it’s consumed on its own or with food. We recommend retailers get stocked up to take advantage of the impact the new design will have.”

The new look 7UP will be supported by a refresh of the brand’s Facebook page. Over the summer, retailers will be able to receive in-store POS for the lemon-lime drink.

Innovation key to success

The main categories of soft drink products are carbonates, fruit juices, dilutables, still and juice drinks and bottled waters. Consumers are always looking for new tastes and formats for soft drinks – in
novation is therefore key to success, says the British Soft Drinks Association. Health issues and changing lifestyles have influenced shifts in UK consumption, most significantly from regular variants to low calorie and no added sugar variants. In the carbonated sector, this is reflected in the growth of low and zero sugar variants, as manufacturers continue to meet the demands of health conscious consumers.

The last few years has seen the leaders in soft drink vending machine manufacturing invest heavily in the development of machines designed specifically for the soft drinks industry. The emphasis is now on full product visibility with glass-fronted machines replacing the closed front kind that simply illustrate the products, in a collective effort to keep the market buoyant.