A quarter of UK consumers drinking less soft drink than they were six months ago, Mintel

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 6th August 2014
A quarter of UK consumers drinking less soft drink than they were six months ago, Mintel
A quarter of UK consumers drinking less soft drink than they were six months ago, Mintel

One in four consumers in the UK are drinking less Carbonated Soft Drinks (CSDs) than they were six months ago and half of those are doing so because they contain too much sugar, new findings from market research organisation Mintel has shown.

Mintel’s research found that the percentage of UK consumers consuming less CSD’s than they were six months ago rose to a third (34 per cent) among those aged 16-24. Of those consuming less CSDs in 2014, 50 per cent said they were doing so because the drinks contained too much sugar.

Lowest consumption since 2010

Following this decrease in demand, consumption has inevitably taken a knock and is expected this year to fall to its lowest point since 2010, according to Mintel. UK consumers drank 5.96 billion litres in 2010. This rose to 6.17 billion litres in 2011, but has declined to just 5.95 billion litres in 2014. In terms of value sales, Mintel expects these to reach just £7.5 billion in 2014, compared to £8.3 billion in 2011.

“The findings of our research come as the debate over sugar’s contribution towards the nation’s growing obesity continues to be played out in the media, with CSDs being highlighted as one area for improvement,” said Richard Ford, Senior Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel. “As such, CSD manufacturers continue to launch lower-sugar and sugar-free variants of their standard soft drinks, the highest-profile example of which is Coca-Cola’s forthcoming launch of Coca-Cola Life, which contains a blend of sugar and the sweetener stevia leaf extract, in the UK this September,” he said.

“That CSDs meet a strong perceived need to quench thirst amongst consumers means that, in one sense, the category is well-placed in consumers’ minds,” Mr Ford said. “However, whilst the industry has been proactive in tackling concerns around the high sugar content of some of the drinks by introducing lower-sugar or lower-calorie variants, more work is needed,” he said.

Health reasons for drinking less soft drink

Mintel’s research also shed light on other important reasons why some consumers were drinking less CSDs. A third (34 per cent) of those drinking less carbonated soft drinks than they were six months ago said they were doing so because they were worried about the health impacts of artificial sweeteners. Meanwhile, Government initiatives are also affecting consumption with one in six (16 per cent) saying they were drinking less due to health campaigns such as Change4Life.

Earlier in 2014, additional Mintel research identified that a third (32 per cent) of those who had drunk fruit juice, juice drinks and smoothies in 2013 said they limited their consumption of juice drinks due to their high sugar content.

Consumers reasons for drinking soft drinks

Despite the fact that some UK consumers were drinking less, consumers still recognise CSDs’ functional role with over half (55 per cent) of CSD consumers turning to them to quench their thirst, and over a third (37 per cent) drinking them to accompany a meal. Additionally, Mintel found that a quarter (24 per cent) of those over 18 drink soft drinks as an alternative to an alcoholic drink in a bar, pub or restaurant, and one in five (21 per cent) of those over 18 who have used CSDs at home consume them as an alternative to an alcoholic drink at home.

Moreover, indicating that CSDs brands should do more to ensure they can be easily identified at point-of-sale, almost two thirds (61 per cent) of CSD drinkers say that pubs, bars and restaurants should make the drink more visible to consumers. Despite this, earlier Mintel research has found that a third (34 per cent) of those who have bought soft drinks in these places feel there is a stigma attached to drinking them.

“That the range of CSDs sold in bars, pubs and restaurants is more limited than of alcoholic beverages plays a role in their lesser visibility,” Mr Ford said. “Taking cues from alcoholic beverage brands, CSD operators can help drive visibility by providing more decorative and functional branded paraphernalia to proprietors, such as bar mats and bar-top drip trays,” he said.

“As soft drinks often lack the draught pumps common to alcoholic drinks, this exacerbates the issue. Distinctive, shaped glasses could also help CSD brands to standout.” Mr Ford said.