One in four consumers - and a third of 16 to 24-year-olds - are drinking fewer fizzy soft drinks than six months ago, according to new research from Mintel.
The analyst said it expected consumption this year to fall to its lowest point since 2010, with value sales of £7.5bn this year compared with £8.3bn in 2011.
Half the 2,000 consumers polled for the study who said they were drinking fewer carbonated soft drinks claimed this was because they felt they contained too much sugar, while 34% said they were drinking less because they were worried about the health impact of artificial sweeteners. Meanwhile, 16% said health campaigns such as Change4Life had encouraged them to reduce consumption.
In a separate study earlier this year, Mintel research found that 32% 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.
“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 carbonated soft drinks highlighted as one area for improvement,” said Mintel senior food and drink analyst Richard Ford.
He added that manufacturers continued to launch lower-sugar and sugar-free variants of their standard soft drinks – citing the upcoming launch of CCE’s Coca-Cola Life, which contains a blend of sugar and the sweetener stevia leaf extract, this September.
“However, while 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 added.
Last week, a survey conducted for the Food Standards Agency showed the proportion of people concerned about the amount of sugar in food has risen from 44% to 48%. Meanwhile, the agency’s latest biannual Public Attitudes Tracker found 51% of consumers were concerned about food prices - down from 60% six months ago.