Trade trends to continue

Demand for cocktails, gin and healthier options to grow

Cocktails are expected to continue their growth in pubs and bars into 2019 and beyond

COCKTAILS, gin, low and no-alcohol drinks and healthier options will continue to drive drinks trends in the on-trade this year, drinks firms have predicted.

Producers and suppliers say they expect many of the drinks categories that proved popular last year to continue to reign supreme in bars and restaurants in the months ahead.

And cocktails are one such category that’s likely to go from strength to strength.

Citing CGA figures, Funkin, the AG Barr-owned cocktail mixer and fruit puree brand, said cocktails have seen an 8.6% year-on-year increase in value terms, with 41,000 outlets across the UK now offering cocktails – a year-on-year increase of 3.7%.

And Funkin’s Ben Anderson said that growth is expected to continue.

“Cocktails are maintaining their stronghold over the on-trade as outlets raise their game, bartenders get more creative and consumers get more discerning,” he said.

“The CGA research also shows that one in four consumers, or 28% of the population, say they are drinking more cocktails now than they were six months ago, so it’s safe to say that the cocktail market has yet to reach its tipping point and will continue to grow into 2019 and beyond.”

Syrup producer Monin also expects the cocktail boom to continue this year, highlighting growing consumer demand for healthier options, including alcohol-free and vegan cocktails – and the potential sales opportunity they offer the trade.

Lee Hyde, Monin’s UK beverage innovation manager, said: “By increasing the drinks range in line with the needs of the customer, venues can be rewarded with additional sales and an increase in customer loyalty.”

Demand for vegan-friendly drinks was also flagged by Bibendum, which said the number of vegans in the UK climbed to 3.5 million last year and the number of vegan restaurants is “rising rapidly”.

Bibendum buying director Andrew Shaw said a growing number of venues are adding vegan-friendly lines to their wine lists.

“Consumers are all rightly aware of what they eat and drink, and the trend of veganism has become profound in wine,” he said. “Many of our leading producers recognise this and produce vegan-friendly wines.”

Bibendum also highlighted the continuing growth of gin, saying the trend for using seasonal fresh fruit garnishes is “helping to make the category relevant throughout the whole year”.

Gin was also picked out by Majestic, which said it expects gins from across the UK and around the world to make their mark on gantries this year.

Pointing to gins from France, Finland, Pennsylvania, New Zealand and California, Majestic’s spirits buyer, Beth Pearce, said the “trend for local v international is expected to continue with the gin craze diversifying rather than slowing”.

“The genius of gin is that it can really reflect where it is born,” she said.

“That can be at an international level – with botanicals and flavours only found in the country of origin. Or it can be even more bespoke, with local gins in the UK reflecting the very landscape surrounding the distillery.

“It’s what makes gin such a fascinating, unique spirit.”