Soft drinks: Adult drinks, chilled coffee and flavoured water tipped as top trends

Soft drinks: Adult drinks, chilled coffee and flavoured water tipped as top trends

2018 has presented challenges to the entire food and drink supply chain.

But it has also brought out the best in forward-thinking soft-drinks manufacturers, and the industry saw annual volume sales rise by 2% and value sales soar by 6% (IRI data). Next year looks set to be even more fruitful, with continuous innovation driving growth and propelling the industry into emerging spaces. There are two particular trends which I expect to increase in prominence ­­­– adult soft-drinks and the gradual merger of categories.

Alcohol drinking rates among British adults have dipped to their lowest level in 18 years. An Office for National Statistics survey found the proportion of Brits who drank alcohol at least once a week fell from 64.2% in 2005 to 57% last year. More than a quarter of 16-to-24-year-olds reportedly do not drink alcohol at all. This represents a huge opportunity for the soft drinks industry, and in line with this, we have seen a rise in manufacturers launching premium soft-drinks products in stylish glass bottles aimed at adults.

The adult soft drinks category now has an annual sales value of £86m, and it will not be long before the £100m mark is passed. According to Kantar Worldpanel data, cordial was the fastest-growing part of this market in 2018, with annual take-home volume sales up by 69.4% and take-home value sales up by 61.3%.

Milk-based products compete ever-more keenly for the same shelf space as traditional soft drinks. Chilled coffee is a prime example, and in retail this year, such products have posted 38% value sales growth and 40% volume sales growth (IRI). Even smaller, voguish brands which appeal to millennial consumers have capitalised on this trend, and can be counted among the drinks options in major supermarket and high-street retailer meal-deals.

Flavoured water is another area which blurs the boundaries in the soft-drinks category, and one which continues to grow in popularity and drive significant growth. Soft-drinks manufacturers have spent a significant number of years bolstering their low and no-cal options, with flavoured water chief among such launches, and it is likely these products will feature even more heavily in space in retail, foodservice and on-trade chiller units next year.


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