Innocent Drinks was the biggest food and drink casualty in the Top Products Survey 2008, with sales falling from £134m to £107m, a 20.2% drop.

The market-leading smoothie brand, which has seen meteoric growth since its launch in 1998, has struggled as consumers tighten their purse strings. With PepsiCo pulling out all the stops for the launch of Tropicana Smoothies, which hit shelves in February with a £4.5m marketing push, the leading player in the juices and smoothies category has widened its lead, with sales up 16.6% to £282.8m.

Innocent remains defiant, however. "Yes we've had a bit of a tough year but we are outperforming the market," said joint founder Richard Reed, claiming market share in the last few weeks was back to the same levels as at the start of the year, while Tropicana Smoothies sales were no greater than they were for P&J Smooth-

ies before it was sidelined and then delisted.

Admitting that price promotions in 2007 had attracted too many light buyers, Reed added: "We are taking back shelf space and sales we lost to Tropicana at launch and our innovations this year have been beating theirs, too.

"We will sell more Innocent OJ this year than PepsiCo will sell Tropicana Smoothies. Not bad given that we have only been on shelf since August in limited distribution and with no consumer investment."

Sales of Innocent Veg pots are also set to reach £1m for 2008, Reed predicted, and the pots are due to go on sale in Tesco stores from the New Year.