Cola wears the crown

The evergreen soft drink continues to drive growth in licensed venues


THE significance of cola to drinks sales in pubs, bars and restaurants was underlined in the annual Soft Drinks Review from Britvic, which revealed it to be worth £2 billion in sales in the UK on-trade.

The report, which analyses sales and prevalent trends in the sector, showed that value sales of cola rocketed by 9% in 2018 to reach that £2 billion figure, outpacing other soft drink sub-categories, including lemonade (£587 million), mixers (£528m), still juice drinks (£279m) and plain water (£245m).

In addition, cola’s 9% growth in 2018 was almost double the overall soft drinks category’s average growth, which grew by 4.8% in 2018 to £4.4bn in the on-trade.

However, while cola benefited from significant growth in 2018, demand for certain variants has changed.

The Soft Drinks Industry Levy, ‘the sugar tax’, which came into effect last April, has had a notable impact on cola sales – and the soft drinks sector more widely, according to the report.

Britvic found that in 2018 full-sugar soft drinks sales dipped by 4.1%, while lower calorie sales rose 25.7% during the same period.

In that time consumer demand for low and no-sugar cola is said to have played its part in driving the category’s growth.

Paul Graham, GB managing director at Britvic, said in the report: “The levy has had a lasting impact on the soft drinks industry, particularly in the cola category, with significant volume shift from regular to low and no-sugar options and products such as Pepsi Max have now gained significant share from full-sugar products.”