One year on from the introduction of the soft drinks industry levy, Priyanka Jethwa looks at the new must-stocks, the growing importance of energy and functional products, and the trends that retailers have noticed

1 Invest in new varieties from popular brands that come in low- and no-sugar options to target those looking for healthier alternatives. Trystan Farnworth, sustainability director at Britvic, says it has recently added a raspberry flavour to its Pepsi Max range to cater for demand – a flavour growing by 3%.

2 Stock low-calorie options. Diet drinks are worth £143m, which equates to 10.7% of the sports and energy category, increasing by 18.2% from 2017. While Red Bull Original 250ml is the leading variety for the supplier, by offering a low-calorie alternative, like Red Bull Sugarfree 250ml, and an alternative flavour, like Red Bull Tropical 250ml, retailers can offer shoppers more options. 

3 Invest in the water-plus category. Sales of waters with added nutritional benefits have grown by 30% since 2011, and this is forecasted to accelerate to 43.8% by 2022. Retailers can stock brands like Frusion, Lucozade Ribena Suntory’s first water-plus brand under Ribena, which is designed to meet demand for flavoured, water-based drinks. 

Read more: Lucozade Ribena Suntory launches Ribena Frusion


4 Range according to sales volume. Fifty to 60 per cent of soft drinks space should be allocated to the top five brands. Ensure 60-70% of space is left for sports and energy brands, in line with their share of the category. Additionally, Rich Fisher, category development manager at Red Bull, says: “Shoppers only see products within a 1.3-metre breadth, so blocking products vertically helps them to find the drink they want.”

5 Consider expanding your breakfast drinks range, as in the convenience channel, the market for cold breakfast drinks is growing by 7% in value, and 5% in volume. In the morning, a chiller should focus on highlighting milk-based drinks, juices, and iced coffee and teas, to appeal to those looking to grab something on the go.

6 Protein is key. James Logan, commercial director at Refresco, says to capitalise on the trend, it is adding two new milk-based protein drinks to its Emerge range, aimed at health-conscious consumers. “Refresco is also taking part in national sampling campaigns at fairs and lifestyle events throughout summer to help raise awareness and drive traffic through money-off vouchers redeemable in independent stores,” he adds.   

7 Don’t forget the kids. Last year, 15% of shoppers switched to milk drinks from other soft drinks categories, which has led to flavoured milk now being worth £340m. Within this, brands like Yazoo are growing at nearly 10%. Earlier this month, Coca-Cola European Partners also launched a campaign to highlight that its Capri-Sun brand contains nothing artificial, in response to parents demanding healthier options for their children.

8 Don’t be afraid of experimenting with exotic flavours. Fifty-five per cent of UK shoppers say it is ‘important’ or ‘very important’ that their local retailer stocks interesting or unique products, and 17% say they would be more likely to shop at convenience stores if there was a larger choice of ‘interesting’ products, such as world foods and drinks.

9 Take advantage of sporting events this summer to push sales. During the football World Cup last year, Lucozade Sport grew by more than 32.1%. To celebrate boxing champion Anthony Joshua’s first fight in the US this year, the brand has launched a limited-edition Fruit Punch flavour, which features the athlete’s face on the bottle to help grow sales.

Read more: Lucozade Sport teams with Anthony Joshua on new bottle


10 Focus on energy drinks. Energy drinks are growing in volume by 4% and in value by 9%, and within this, the leading formats are 500ml single cans. These made up 37% of category sales by value in the past year. Original energy flavours make up 70%of the market share by value and this grew by 5% in the past year. The remaining 30% is made up of consumers trying new flavour combinations.

Read more: Energy drinks: Energy beats the sugar levy