A softer summer coming this year?

Wholesalers forecast growing demand for soft drinks and low-alcohol options

• Wholesalers reckon there is a growing demand for artisan soft drinks and lower alcohol alternatives, and advised operators to stock up.
• Wholesalers reckon there is a growing demand for artisan soft drinks and lower alcohol alternatives, and advised operators to stock up.

Wholesalers, the front line drinks suppliers for the majority of the Scottish trade, are advising publicans to be stocked with a wide variety of drinks this summer as customers want more choice than ever before.
With the waves of the lower drink drive limit legislation still rippling through the trade, Dunns managing director, Jim Rowan, noted that consumer behaviour around drinking has changed.
He said he expects homemade and artisan soft drinks to increase in popularity this summer, as consumers begin “moving seamlessly between types, flavours [and] price points” as they choose what they drink.
Bestway Wholesale’s Ron Hickey echoed this view, anticipating “premium” soft drinks to be one of the leading drinks categories in the trade this summer.
Graham Baird, Belhaven sales director, also expects to see a rise in soft drinks sales this summer; demand for low-alcohol options is also expected to increase.

“We are often asked about lower alcohol options and so we expect to see some growth in that area, with our range including low-alcohol beers and also mixed drinks such as Radlers,”

said Baird.
While sales of soft drinks and lower alcohol products could be set to grow, wholesalers have also forecast growing demand for cocktails this summer, with Bestway’s Hickey expecting increased demand for premium spirits “driven by the cocktail boom”.
And gin will continue to be one of the most popular premium spirits in the trade, said wholesalers.
Ian Cumming, commercial director of Inverarity Morton, said there has been a revival in consumer demand for gin.
“Gin [is] leading the way as the spirit of the moment and perfect-serve G&T’s [are] characterising its resurgence in popularity,” said Cumming.
This fits into a wider trend of consumers taking an interest in the quality and provenance of what they are eating and drinking, said Nicola Henderson, trade marketing manager at Tennent Caledonian Breweries.
“Brands that can demonstrate quality ingredients, history and a regional tie will enjoy success in the on-trade,” said Henderson.
And each of the wholesalers contacted by SLTN was in agreement on the importance of a strong relationship between the licensee and supplier.
Rowan at Dunns advised bar and pub operators to “work more closely” with their wholesaler.
Inverarity Morton’s Ian Cumming agreed, saying operators shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions whenever they need advice.
“The best advice I could give would be to seek advice wherever you need it from your wholesaler and don’t be afraid to ask,” he said. “Most good wholesalers are delighted to have lots of contact with their customers, and to talk about ways to help customers make more money through innovation and ‘premiumisation’.”
A close working relationship can also help to ensure that operators are kept up to speed with all of the latest product launches and developments in the marketplace.
“An important role for our sales and business development teams is to help customers with advice on product trends and launches,” said Hickey, at Bestway.