Health might not be the first thing that springs to mind for many people at this time of year, with the festive party season well underway.
But it won’t be long before the new year’s resolutions are being made and healthy living jumps back up the agenda.
Healthy and lower-calorie products have been proving increasingly popular in recent years, say drinks firms, and January could see a spike in demand as customers watch their waistlines.
According to brand owners, many of the same trends seen in alcoholic drinks are also predominant in healthier options – including demand for premium, provenance and the quality of ingredients.
“Just as in many other categories, we’re seeing an increasing interest from consumers in the character and ingredients behind the drinks they choose,” said Russell Kirkham of Britvic. “The rise of the conscientious consumer represents a huge opportunity for operators who can capitalise on this trend by offering a soft drinks range to suit all tastes and preferences, so don’t miss out on these key sales drivers.”
While healthier serves for alcoholic drinks can cater for those customers looking to cut some calories, there are others who choose to stay away from alcohol altogether.
Amy Burgess, trade communications manager at Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), said: “Adult soft drinks is one of the fastest growing sectors within soft drinks, as more and more people choose not to drink alcohol or look for ways to reduce the amount they are consuming.
“In fact, statistics show that a fifth of adults now opt not to drink alcohol and this is where the sector has really benefitted.”
Eldon Robson, managing director of soft drinks firm Fentimans, said stocking premium soft drinks which can be used either as ingredients in ‘mocktails’ or enjoyed on their own, can help attract teetotal customers into venues.
Robson said the company’s ‘Dry January’ marketing activity “is all about encouraging a healthy lifestyle”, but not at the expense of trips to the pub.
“What we don’t want to do is make people feel like they have to stay at home to be healthy,” said Robson.
“People want something tasty that they can enjoy while others may be drinking around them.”
This was echoed by Alan Hay, on-trade controller at AG Barr, who said customers looking for healthier drinks want something that is “lower in calories, but with no compromise on flavour”.
And as with any on-trade product, the perfect serve is vital with a healthier drink, said Hay.
“Licensees should always ensure that all soft drinks are served in a way that will enhance the customer’s experience whether they are low calorie or regular lines,” he said. “Carbonated soft drinks should be served chilled and poured over ice, while bottled water should be chilled to perfection and served with a slice of lemon or lime.”