Bakers' soft sell

14 March, 2008
A broader soft drinks offer has become increasingly important in bakers' shops. Rick Morris talks to bakers around the country to find out what's selling
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There was a time when the only soft drinks you could buy in a baker's were cans of Coca-Cola and lemonade. But there has been a revolution in the soft drinks available from manufacturers and in the public appetite for new and different types of drink. Coca-Cola and other carbonated drinks are still available, and still popular, but these days they are likely to be sold from a free chiller supplied by the manufacturer.
Competition has never been greater and savvy bakers realise that to capture their share of the food-on-the-go market, they need to be offering not only good sandwiches, pies and cakes but also a choice of thirst-quenching, flavourful modern drinks.== Growing business ==Our ring-around to seven bakers across the UK suggests that, in recent years, bakers' sales of soft drinks have risen from around 2% of turnover to around 5%. It's a time of great choice in drinks and tastes are constantly changing, which presents a real challenge - and an opportunity - for bakers.The drink that wasn't available in bakeries 20 years ago, but is now a major best-seller is good old-fashioned water. Bottled water comes in many different varieties and can be a very profitable line. It can be bought very cheaply and sold at a substantial mark-up. Some bakers have become water connoisseurs, opting for well-known brands rather than cheap alternatives. The bottle, too, can make a difference; cheaper plastics can impart a plasticky flavour to the water, they say.The public's appetite for healthier drinks has been met by a range of manufacturers producing smoothies, new fruit juices, health drinks and energy drinks. These have proved popular with buyers of all ages and chime in with the growing trend for food-on-the-go.On the high street, the number of sources of take-away food has increased, as has the number of cafés, coffee bars and sandwich outlets, so it is vital to stay in touch with the latest brands and trends.== Trevor Mooney, joint MD of Chatwin's, Nantwich, Cheshire ==20 bakery shops, 5 coffee loungesIs there a move to healthier drinks?Yes, primarily towards flavoured mineral waters and fruit smoothies. We supply healthier drinks and other drinks.Are drinks sales growing?In a word 'yes', and we are actively promoting this. They are growing principally because we've introduced sandwich vans that supply the lunchtime trade.Which brands or sectors are growing?Bottled water is proving to be a main growth area. Coca-Cola is on the increase. This is an area we are looking at: I'm arranging a bakers' trip to the Coca-Cola factory in Wakefield for a presentation.What are younger drinkers buying?Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and smoothies.What are older drinkers buying?Still water, flavoured waters and sparkling mineral waters.Are these eat-in or take-away sales?Mainly take-away and sandwich van sales.What is each drink (or sector) worth to the company?As a total, in the region of 5%.Which brands or sectors are most profitable?Bottled waters and flavoured waters.What is your top selling line?Bottled Coke.== Robert Dawson, MD of Dawson's bakery, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire ==8 bakery shopsIs there a move to healthier drinks?There has been for some time. Bakers were slow to move into food-on-the-go. We weren't, after I did some research 15 years ago.The biggest growth during that time has been in water. It's there and it's cold. It's a health thing. People know it and can trust it.We only sell mineral water, not spring water because that's just tap water. The leading brands are French.Are drinks sales growing?Yes, continuous growth. Coca-Cola Enterprises has been moving strongly into the bakery sector.Two or three years ago, I rang the sales manager of a major wholesaler and said, "You haven't got a very good selection of drinks - mainly Coke and Schweppes."His reply was "Rob, drinks account for 2% of my sales; why should I be bothered about that?"He lost his job in the end. Drinks should have been accounting for 5-6% of his sales. Coke has now come out with still drinks and they are offering free chillers to bakers.Which brands or sectors are growing?Still drinks. There's a trend away from carbonated. We don't do smoothies.What are younger drinkers buying?Energy drinks, such as Relentless.What are older drinkers buying?Coke ? it's still a big seller.Are these eat-in or take-away sales?Mainly take-away.Which brands or sectors are most profitable?Water and still drinks. Non-branded.What is your top-selling line?Coke, closely followed by Volvic water.== Christopher Freeman, MD of Dunn's of Crouch End, London ==1 bakery shopIs there a move to healthier drinks?I think so, a little.Are drinks sales growing?A little.Which brands or sectors are growing?Things like smoothies and juices, as opposed to carbonated. Sales of carbonated drinks are static.What are younger drinkers buying?Smoothies and juices, though I don't really know about older drinkers.Are these eat-in or take-away sales?All take-away.What is each drink (or sector) worth to the company?We don't break it down. A lot of it is seasonal.Which brands or sectors are the most profitable for you?Water. We sell Volvic and Buxton primarily.What is your top selling line?Volvic still bottled water, then smoothies.== Kristine Anvick, marketing assistant, Ainsleys of Leeds, Leeds, West Yorkshire ==31 bakery shopsIs there a move to healthier drinks?Yes, we see more of a move towards water. In our case, Harrogate Spa Water.Are drinks sales growing? As a very secondary product to us, sales of drinks are steady.Are sales steady across all shops?We sell more drinks in our shops in Leeds city centre as the strong lunchtime trade draws in young office workers.Are these eat-in or take-away sales?The majority are take-away sales.What is each drink (or sector) worth to the company?As a total, in the region of 5%.Which brands or sectors are most profitable?Profit across the range is just about the same. The margin is higher on hot drinks.What is your top selling line?Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Light.== Tristan Hunt, marketing executive of Pullins Bakers, Yatton, North Somerset ==3 bakery shopsIs there a move to healthier drinks?Not where we are. If our three shops were inner-city there would be. They go more for Coca-Cola which is cheaper than smoothies.Are drinks sales growing?Yes, they are up on previous years. People are more aware of health concerns, but healthy drinks are still not overtaking fizzy drinks.Which brands or sectors are growing?A brand of apple juice - Chegworth Valley, Frobisher's juices and smoothies.What are younger drinkers buying?It's still Coke and Pepsi. The under-30s go for these more than smoothies or juices, even though those are growing.What are older drinkers buying?They go for juices and Fentiman's traditional drinks ? ginger beer, old-fashioned lemonade, traditional cola and dandelion & burdock.Are these eat-in or take-away sales?Take-away.What is each drink (or sector) worth to the company?I'm not sure what they are worth. It's only a small offering.Which brands or sectors are most profitable?Coca-Cola ? it gives the best margin.What is your top selling line?Most probably Coke.== Michael Quinlan, MD of Sayer's, Greater Manchester ==200 bakery shopsIs there a move to healthier drinks?Yes.Are drinks sales growing?Yes, they are up by 3%.Which brands or sectors are growing?Robinson's fruit-based drinks, Tropicana and smoothies.What are younger drinkers buying?Fruit Shoot and water.What are older drinkers buying?More water and fruit-based drinks.Are these eat-in or take-away sales?Take-away.Which brands or sectors are most profitable?Carbonates.What is your top selling line?Pepsi 500ml.== Tom Herbert, director of Hobbs House Bakery, Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire ==3 bakery shopsIs there a move to healthier drinks?Over the last six years there has been. We had Innocent Smoothies around six years ago ? they were a big hit straight away, although we sell slightly fewer now.Are drinks sales growing?Average spend is going up. Unit-wise it is not increasing, but we are taking a bit more money.Which brands or sectors are growing?Day's Cottage apple juice is really popular.What are younger drinkers buying?They have quite sophisticated tastes. The Luscombe drinks - Hot Ginger Beer and Sicilian Lemonade - are popular with teenagers.What are older drinkers buying?More ethical things. Belu water is our most popular drink. This is a bottled mineral water from Wales, so is low-mileage and it's in the UK's first compostable bottle. We sell it for 75p, which is relatively cheap. A percentage of profits from each bottle sold can provide someone in Africa with water for a month. The packaging is biodegradable.Are these eat-in or take-away sales?There's a 50:50 split between eat-in and take-away.What is each drink (or sector) worth to the company?In the retail sector it's 4.5%.Which brands or sectors are most profitable?Definitely the water, followed by local apple juice then Coke in bottles.What is your top selling line?Water, followed by Innocent Smoothies.



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