The soft-drink category is going from strength to strength. Donna Ahern reports.
Soft drinks are Ireland’s second-biggest category in grocery.
Research conducted by NIQ on behalf of Checkout shows that, in the latest 52 weeks to 26 February 2023, the soft-drink category in Ireland was worth €780 million.
From a sales perspective, there is a fairly even split across multiples (32.7%), forecourts (36.1%) and symbol groups (31.1%).
Unit sales across the total category are up by 3.8%, with volume sales down by 0.9%.
This suggests that consumers are buying more of the small-pack formats than they were a year ago.
Carbonated drinks are the largest value subcategory in soft drinks, accounting for 42% of all sales, followed by liquid glucose drinks, at 27.4%, mineral waters, at 21.3%, sports/energy drinks, at 6.4%, and health/functional drinks, at 2.9%.
“Consumers appear to be shifting out of the carbonated drinks subcategory and into liquid glucose drinks and sports/energy drinks, as these are the only two categories showing widespread unit and volume growth,” says Mark Pearce, client executive, retailer services Ireland, NIQ.
“In recent times, and compared to the traditional carbonated drinks, I think there has been a lot more product innovation and activation within glucose drinks and sports/energy drinks, and the link with healthy messaging and exercise has been a successful driver of consumption within both of these subcategories.”
Top Five Brands
Last year, the carbonated soft-drink category secured the number-two position in the Top 100 Categories in the 2022 Checkout Top 100 Brands, which is published by Checkout in association with NIQ.
The pandemic gave the category a bump up the rankings last year, as it moved up two places from the fourth-placed category in 2021.
Despite the fact that the fizzy-drink market in Ireland is competitive, there were no changes to the top five brands last year.
This is testament to the fact that consumer tastes are well established in this category, with strong brand loyalty.
The top-selling brand in the category was Coca-Cola, which means that this iconic global brand has claimed the number-one spot in our rankings for a record-breaking 18 years in succession.
Last year, Coca-Cola’s innovations included the launch of the Coca-Cola app, with content and prizes designed to engage consumers.
Allied to this, as Ireland welcomed back a summer of concerts and festivals, Coca-Cola tied into this celebration through the Coca-Cola summer music campaign, which ran during June, July and August 2022.
Last year, 7UP secured the number-two position in the carbonated soft-drink category.
The American brand and lemon- and lime-flavoured non-caffeinated formula are owned by Keurig Dr Pepper, although the beverage is distributed internationally by PepsiCo.
Britvic manages the company in the UK and Ireland on its behalf.
The Pepsi brand is proving to be a very strong and consistent performer in the Irish soft-drink market, and it came in at number three.
Manufactured by its parent company, PepsiCo, it was originally created and developed in 1893 by Caleb Bradham and introduced as Brad’s Drink.
It was renamed Pepsi-Cola in 1898, and then shortened to Pepsi in 1961.
Today, Pepsi is distributed by international soft-drink business Britvic.
Club secured the number-four position in the carbonated soft-drink category. Additionally, after climbing six places in 2021, to the number-13 position in the Checkout Top 100 Brands, the brand retained that position in 2022 – an achievement that can be attributed to Club’s enduring popularity among Irish consumers.
The soft-drink brand is produced in Ireland by Britvic, and previously by Cantrell & Cochrane (C&C). It is bottled at the Britvic plant in Dublin.
Despite its iconic status as one of Ireland’s best-loved soft drinks, Club continues to make a splash in the Irish market with a range of refreshing new additions.
Fanta was launched in Ireland in 1963, and it is the Coca-Cola Company’s second-oldest brand. It is enjoyed by consumers more than 130 million times every day around the world.
Today, Fanta is available in more than 190 countries. The range features ‘tongue-tingling and delicious’ sparkling fruit drinks that ‘surprise’ with their ‘intense and refreshing fruity taste’.
On 15 February, Fanta announced that it had added tropical-fruit cult favourite Lilt to its portfolio of fruity fizzy drinks.
Retaining its iconic taste, Lilt has been relaunched with a new moniker, Fanta Pineapple & Grapefruit.
Inspired by the flavours of the Caribbean, Lilt, which was first launched in 1975, is a sparkling soft drink that contains real pineapple and grapefruit juice, for a ‘totally tropical taste’.
This prompted the well-known advertising slogan ‘The Totally Tropical Taste’, which was used to promote the brand for many years. Charlotte Walsham, brand manager, Fanta, said, “With Lilt’s punchy taste profile and distinctive fruity flavour, it fits perfectly within the expanding Fanta family.
“Our main priority with this announcement is to reassure Lilt’s loyal fan base that absolutely nothing has changed when it comes to the iconic taste of the drink they know and love. It’s still bursting with tangy tropical flavours. It’s just got itself a new name.”
IBC Appoints New Chair
The IBEC group that represents the non-alcoholic beverage industry noted that, as IBC chair, Filippi will be responsible for representing an industry that employs over 3,500 people directly and supports an additional 3,000 jobs indirectly in Ireland.
Commenting on her appointment, Filippi said, “I am delighted to take on the role as chair of the IBC at what is a crucial time for all of us operating in the industry. As the sector continues to navigate changing consumer demands and rising costs, as well as economic uncertainty, the IBC is a vital partnership platform that enables industry to work together and grow into the future.”
Welcoming the news, Robert Kiernan, director of the IBC, said that he was delighted to welcome Filippi to her new role.
“Agnese brings significant experience and expertise with her to this position, and I look forward to working closely with Agnese in what will be a very exciting time for both our industry and the Irish economy as a whole,” Kiernan added.
After being appointed country manager of Coca-Cola Ireland on 15 April 2021, Agnese said, “Over the next two years, our industry is committed to working with policymakers and the broader business ecosystem to continue our growth journey while also taking firm action to achieve a net-zero future.
“This includes supporting government in helping to introduce the deposit return scheme, which will become operational early next year. As chair of IBC, I look forward to working with my colleagues on the council to ensure a collaborative approach to its roll-out.”