Despite the continued dominance of colas and other carbonated drinks in the UK market, the dynamism in the last few years has come from still drinks, according to market analysts Canadean.
Consumption of still drinks in the UK increased by 9 per cent in 2002, a figure which was better than expected after some of the smaller brands in particular performed very strongly.
A major strength of still drinks is the fact that they are perceived by parents to be healthier for children, the report claims, and this has helped attract new consumers from the long-life juice and carbonates sectors. In addition, the image of still drinks is being greatly enhanced by a number of new products.
But while the report predicts that the market will continue to grow in 2003, growth will be nowhere near the rate seen in 2002, with sales rising by around 2 per cent this year.
Growth has not come in every category, however. The demise of Sunny Delight - which failed to capitalise on the healthier image of other still drinks after a number of well-publicised problems relating to its high sugar content - has hampered the orange sector, which has seen its share of the still drinks market recede significantly over the last three years.
Blackcurrant, peach and strawberry have all fared better and the demand for cocktails has increased by over 120 per cent in the last four years, albeit from a low base volume.
Still drinks appeal to parents and children alike as both audiences continue to shy away from carbonated drinks in school. Purchases of multipacks are growing, fuelled by the thriving school lunchbox market. This profitable niche has not been lost on producers, who remain fiercely competitive. Strong branding, packaging and 'buy one get one free' promotions all featured heavily in 2002.
The still drinks sector is now viewed within the industry as a potential source of increased sales value and volume, the report claims. As such, its highly competitive environment should remain with small pack sizes, innovative use of flavours and packaging, and highly targeted marketing likely to be employed.
Several brands posted particularly strong performances in 2002. The success of its Fruit Shoots sub-brand enabled Britvic's Robinsons to deliver promising results in 2002. Robinsons already has an extremely strong presence in squashes and syrups, and has become the second most popular overall soft drinks brand, with Fruit Shoots easily the fastest growing still drinks brand in the market in 2002.
In conjunction with flavoured waters and Ribena, Fruit Shoots have also helped PET to substantially increase its share of still drinks packaging. Canadean believes that 2003 will be even better, with PET overtaking cartons as the most popular type of packaging for the category.
For more details of Canadean's reports, click here.