Room for more of a soft sell

Demand for premium drinks and healthy options expected to continue growing

Soft drinks

SALES of soft drinks in the UK’s bars and restaurants continue to climb, meaning there is “huge potential” for operators to tap into – providing they adapt their soft drinks range to suit the wants and needs of consumers.

That’s the message from Britvic, which said sales of soft drinks in the foodservice and licensed channels have risen 3.3% since 2015 to a total value of £6.7 billion – and are set for further growth.

That more people are eating out is credited with driving sales of soft drinks – the category saw growth of 13.6% to £971 million in the UK’s food-led pubs, according to Britvic’s annual Soft Drinks Review, published earlier this year.

And the trend is set to continue, with the firm forecasting that the “established ‘foodie’ culture and the extensive breadth of high quality outlets at all price points will see the appetite for eating out continue”, adding that soft drinks will remain the “number one choice with food”.

However, it said as consumer expectations of choice are set to remain high, operators need to widen their soft drinks offer to succeed, highlighting the continuing trends for premium drinks and healthy options.

Demand for healthier soft drinks choices in bars and restaurants is expected to accelerate further ahead of the implementation of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (the so-called sugar tax) in April 2018.

Britvic also predicts more operators will list calorie content on drinks menus going forward.

Speaking at the launch of Britvic’s Soft Drinks Review earlier this year, Russell Goldman, commercial director – licensed, foodservice and leisure at Britvic GB, said: “Foodservice and licensed has never been so competitive so supporting our customers to drive increased custom and revenue through soft drinks sales is a top priority for us.

“Competition for the leisure pound isn’t going to get any easier for operators in the year ahead, but the good news for them is that if they get their soft drinks offering right, tailoring it to their customers’ needs and focusing on creating sensational experiences for them, they can unlock further potential from the category and reap the rewards.”