Alco-pop drinks lose out to wine and cocktails

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Alcoholic beverage

Alco-pops have lost the plot on the UK alcoholic drinks market and
the sector will carry on sinking until producers come up with
something new for Britain's youth, says a new report.

The bottom has fallen out of Britain's flavoured alcoholic beverages (FAB) market with sales tumbling 22 per cent in the last three years, says a new report by Mintel​.

"These once trendy beverages are clearly no longer seen as cool by the fickle target market of the 18 to 34-year-olds, who have now ditched FABs for more fashionable and sophisticated alternatives, such as cocktails,"​ says report.

It went on to criticise producers for not reacting to change fast enough, and instead relying on simply tweaking flavour, alcohol levels and packaging.

More consumers also feel that alco-pops are just not worth the bother. Mintel said a third of the key FAB market, comprising 18-24yr-olds, thought the drinks were "too expensive for what they are"​.

Rising excise duty rates have hit FABs hard, partly intentionally as a result of government concerns at such drinks' ability to entice young and even underage drinkers. Yet, this has forced producers to raise prices.

Still, the golden years from 2000 to 2002, when FAB sector value rose 70 per cent, has still left producers the legacy of a good platform from which to re-start growth.

Mintel predicted that the alco-pops market value would continue to fall to £1bn up to 2010, but its report emphasises the need to focus on new ideas and the 'next big thing' rather than merely new flavours.

"Rather than this being a totally new category, it will come from hybrid products, merging FABs with other successful drinks markets,"​ said James McCoy, senior analyst at Mintel.

"Rather than this being a totally new category, it will come from hybrid products, merging FABs with other successful drinks markets,"​ he said, adding that women were still more likely to drink alco-pops than men.

There are already precedents for this kind of innovation. Leading global wine group Constellation Brands has developed a new generation of alco-pop by mixing wine and natural fruit flavours.

The Wine Blender range, under the Arbor Mist brand, is the number one wine-fruit drink in the US. The firm says it is lightly carbonated with a lower alcohol content than most wines, and comes in 375ml, 750ml and 1.5l plastic bottles.

Given the wine consumption boom currently gripping both the US and UK, the wine alco-pop format could be a good way to go.

Another idea has come from Anheuser Busch, which, faced with a shrinking US beer market, developed a caffeine beer called B-to-the-E. The drink is sweet with a taste of red fruits and has done extremely well in clubs and some bars in the US.

Anheuser recently launched the beer in the UK, setting it up as a test case for this kind of product on the market.

Related topics Markets Beer & cider

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