With the horsemeat scandal in the headlines, the major recall of 2012 may be all but forgotten by the public.
But for Britvic, the scars from the Robinsons Fruit Shoot recall are only just starting to heal. The total cost of the recall, caused by a faulty bottle cap, is estimated at £28m but the long-term damage to brand equity remains to be seen.
It is widely acknowledged that Britvic’s response to a six-year-old boy almost choking on a Fruit Shoot cap was exemplary, both in speed and execution. But distribution remained well below pre-recall levels at the end of 2012, thanks to lost listings and manufacturing constraints as Britvic focused on rebuilding its top selling flavours before it began bottling smaller selling SKUs.
Unsurprisingly, rival suppliers were quick to capitalise. “Capri-Sun had a good year,” says CCE Capri-Sun brand manager Hannah Richards. The brand had a strong in-store and promotional presence around the back-to-school season to ensure it benefited from Britvic’s problems with Fruit Shoot, which as of September 2012, had regained just 41% of the listings it held prior to the recall.
Del Monte had no intention of missing out either, launching Fruit Burst in December in a barely disguised attempt to woo Fruit Shoot customers.
But the biggest beneficiary from the crisis has been own label, which has seen an 18.2% uplift in fruit drinks [SymphonyIRI 52 w/e 8 December 2012]. Rival soft drinks categories have also benefited, says Richards, suggesting some of the lost volume moved to squash and carbonates.
As for Fruit Shoot, Britvic claims it’s business as usual again. “Distribution is back to pre-recall levels in grocery and in-store visibility has returned to normal levels,” says Ian Forshew, commercial director at Britvic. He also insists there has been no long-term damage to brand equity, citing research showing that 72% of kids aged seven to nine think Fruit Shoot is “really cool” or “quite cool”.
Whether mums feel the same remains to be seen and Britvic knows it has to rebuild confidence. To that end, Forshew says Fruit Shoot has “hugely exciting” activity planned including heavyweight communications that “will invigorate the kids’ soft drink sub-category and reassure parents Fruit Shoot is here to stay”.
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Britvic says it's business as usual for Fruit Shoot