Soft Drink Sales Continue to Buzz, Despite the Sugar Debate
The soft drinks market has proved highly robust in recent years, particularly given the squeeze on consumer expenditure in the recessionary and post-recession period, with strong growth in terms of both volume and value recorded over the last 5 years. One of the key drivers of this growth has been the ever increasing popularity of energy and sports drinks, with significant year-on-year value and volume increases reported in this category as a result of strong consumer demand for products that combat tiredness on the move, alongside their increasing use as mixers with spirit drinks.
Despite strong growth across the soft drinks sector, there are a number of challenges within the marketplace. Key among these has been the rising scrutiny over the past decade on the impact of sugar content across virtually all soft drink categories, and the detrimental impact of excessive sugar consumption on public health. As one of the main sources of sugar intake among UK consumers, the soft drinks sector remains at the centre of this debate. While the industry has moved to reduce sugar content within its products, either through voluntary agreements with the Department of Health (DH) and via the launch of low-sugar or sugar-free variants of major brands by most manufacturers, there remain many in the Government and in the public health sector that are pushing for increased taxation and regulation to tackle this issue.
Despite the debate around sugar, the market for soft drinks is expected to continue its current period of growth, with continued recovery in the economy, alongside increased demand for low-calorie and sugar-free variants, expected to boost both volume and value consumption over the next 5 years.