SALES of soft drinks are holding up well despite the recession, claims an industry report.
The assessment by Britvic Soft Drinks, which has a bottled water business at Birkby, said UK sales for all producers totalled £8.4bn last year – just 1% down in value and 2% lower in volume than the previous year.
But it warned that consumer trends identified a year ago – such as the importance of soft drinks in health and well-being and convenience had been overshadowed by the “challenging” economic conditions.
Sales of energy and sports drinks continued to drive the market during 2008, while demand for traditional favourites such as cola, squash and fruit juices had proved to be resilient.
One of the success stories has been Britvic’s Gatorade, an energy drink.
It was originally developed in 1965, when University of Florida doctors developed Gatorade to help their American football team The Florida Gators perform at their best.
Paul Moody, chief executive of Britvic and president of the British Soft Drinks Association, said: “Soft drinks continue to be a staple purchase on which consumers are reluctant to compromise.
“In the downturn so far, it’s the big brands and traditionally popular categories like cola, squash and juice drinks that consumers seem particularly unwilling to do without.”
But he added: “With another tough year in prospect, the challenge for the industry is to keep delivering the combination of value and quality that consumers expect – and to stay alert to every shift in their daily purchasing decisions.”
Mr Moody said sales of soft drinks from supermarkets and convenience stores rose by 1% in value during 2008 to £6.1bn, despite a 2% fall in volume.
However, sales in pubs, bars and restaurants fell by 4% in value to £2.3bn and were down 6% by volume.
Smoothies proved less popular with sales down by 20% in value and 15% in volume while sales of water, such as Britvic’s Pennine Spring bottled at Birkby, suffered a 9% fall in value and an 8% decline in volume.
However, strong sales of Pepsi, Robinsons and Gatorade helped Britvic increase shop sales by 8% in value against a 1% rise for the sector as a whole.
Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Britvic J2O and R Whites Lemonade were the most popular soft drinks in pubs and restaurants.