Though original Coca-Cola and Diet Coke are still the top two selling drinks in the UK on-trade according to the latest CGA data – despite respective 3.5% and 2.6% hits to sales volume in 2019 – the clamour for sugar-free options has seen the volume of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar rise by 68.2% year on year.
What’s more, according to The Morning Advertiser’s (MA) latest Drinks List, the sales value of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar increased by £50.9m – a 74.7% boost on 2018 sales.
The popularity of low-sugar options was also seen by rival drinks maker Pepsico, whose sugar-free variant Pepsi Max shot up the latest Drinks List with a 71.7% rise in volume and a £117.1m increase in on-trade sales value – boosts that have seen it overtake both regular and Diet Pepsi in UK pubs.
Pepsi’s bubble appeared to burst in 2019 with sales volume and value falling by 31.4% and 28% respectively, with Diet Pepsi also taking respective 7.1% and 2.9% hits.
In October, nutrition charity The Soil Association called on consumers to sign its pledge to commit hospitality venues to make water more accessible and stop serving sugary drinks to children.
Barbara Crowther, co-ordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, which focuses on children’s health and wellbeing, told MA the pub trade was making progress against sugary drinks.
She said: “Including cola or other fizzy drinks as part of kids’ menus makes it much harder for parents to ensure a pub meal is a healthy one for their children.
“So it’s really good to see the pub trade increasingly swapping out sugary fizzy drinks on kids’ menus for healthier options, including plain milk and water, as well as ensuring responsible portion sizes for drinks containing fruit juice.”
The clamour for healthy alternatives in 2019 saw drinks maker Britvic jump on the sugar-free bandwagon by creating no-sugar tropical, strawberry & watermelon and orange variants of its much loved Tango brand.
Additionally, craft soft drinks maker 40 Kola added a low-sugar variant to its range in March 2019.
Another growing trend within soft drinks over the past 12 months was the rise in premium options. In its first report on soft drinks and mixers, published in July 2019, Fentimans revealed that the premium soft drinks category grew by 33.1% year on year and is now worth a huge £517m.
Produced in collaboration with CGA, the UK On-Trade Premium Soft Drinks and Mixers Market Report 2019 found that almost 12p in every £1 spent on soft drinks and mixers in the on-trade went on a premium option.
According to MA’s latest Drinks List, the best-selling low and no-alcohol beers in the on-trade in 2019 were:
J20 Orange & Passion Fruit