Retrospective: 2015 soft drinks industry performance

Enhanced Waters

Manufacturers and brands specialising in forms of enhanced water – such as those with vitamins or reputed health benefits – have been able to capitalise on the decline in the popularity of conventional carbonated sugary drinks. Energy drinks have performed well, especially with younger consumers, and they remain a rapidly growing sector of the soft drink market. Sports and performance drinks continued to grow in 2015 alongside healthier ready-to-drink tea and coffee options.

Classic bottled water increased by 6 per cent in volumes compared to last year and remains a strong performer. As a result of competition, consumer awareness, and economic factors, 2015 saw the slowest volume growth rate for global carbonates in the last 15 years. Markets as varied as North America, Latin America, and East and Western Europe were all affected.

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Emerging markets including India, Russia, and China were the hardest hit by the declines, with Russia experiencing a fall in retail volume of 7 per cent in the soft drinks category.

Health-Conscious Consumers

Recent research indicates that consumers are more health- and fitness-conscious than ever before, and this has had a corresponding impact on their choices of beverages. Sports drinks and bottled water were particularly strong performers for 2015, which supports the notion that consumers wish to make healthier choices. The range of choices is set to increase due to a combination of public health campaigns, retailer efforts to meet consumers’ new demands, and the ongoing government effort to investigate excise tax options.

Health-conscious consumers are often influenced by news stories such as the BBC’s recent article. Any changes to policy are expected to affect the entire line of soft drinks production, from the start of manufacturing and ingredient selection,to equipment providers like established draught soft drink supplier Empire UK right through to small and supermarket retailers.

Full Sugar and Fruit Juice

Interestingly, however, full-sugar and calorie carbonates outperformed their reduced-sugar counterparts in the Asian Pacific and North American markets. Added ingredients and artificial sweeteners are still met with suspicion by consumers even if the overall calorie count is low. While fruit juices have been under pressure due to pricing and have seen a corresponding decline by 4 per cent in the North American market and 2 per cent in Western Europe, there is also increasing scrutiny on their high calorie and sugar content.

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