Premium soft drinks hit as consumers cut back

10 March, 2009
Page 10 

Consumers are losing the taste for premium soft drinks, such as smoothies and juice products, as shoppers sacrifice their five-a-day in favour of cost-conscious soft drinks like cola.

Smoothies, which were among the biggest soft drink category losers, dropping 17% by value, took the biggest brunt of consumer cutbacks, according to Britvic's annual soft drinks report, compiled by Nielsen. Instead, consumers turned to diet and no-added-sugar drinks and shifted away from stills towards the previously declining carbo-nate drinks category, as people favoured less indulgent products.

Glucose and stimulant drinks bucked the trend of falling premium drinks sales, showing strong growth, as drinks with functional benefits continued to find favour. "The more premium products are seeing an erosion of their position," Britvic CEO Paul Moody told British Baker. "I suspect that where people were drinking three smoothies a week, now they're drinking one.

"Increasingly in on-the-go, we're seeing more meal deals and more product links, which is all about offering the consumer more value. The consumer is definitely more conscious about what price they are willing to pay."

But high street impulse purchases were less exposed to price competition than large grocery stores, said Britvic's customer management director Andrew Richards. He said: "The economic downturn will have an effect on the way we shop. But consumers will spend more for a chilled drink on-the-go."

Market research from Britvic suggested that environment and ethical considerations were still relevant to shoppers, but not at any price, as illustrated by a fall in organic sales.





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