Sports and energy drinks outsold cola in impulse for the first time last year, helping the soft drinks market post its biggest annual growth in four years.

S&E drinks were the fastest growing fmcg segment in 2010, rocketing 16% in value versus 5.8% a year ­earlier [Nielsen MAT 25 December 2010].

In impulse, value sales were up 16.3% to £445m, outstripping cola's 4.2% growth to £410m and buoying the wider soft drinks market from 2% growth in 2009 to 6.6% last year.

After posting 8.2% growth in 2006, soft drinks had declined, hitting a trough of 0.6% growth in 2008 before partially recovering the following year.

"S&E isn't just a success story for soft drinks but for wider fmcg," said GSK category and shopper marketing director Colin Seymour. "There's been a trend shift from lowest price to value-added products and convenience, which is why we've seen continued growth in impulse."

Innovation had boosted sales, he said and further GSK launches were planned in 2011 as part of a multimillion investment in soft drinks including a new cherry variant of Lucozade Sport and Ribena sparkling.

Red Bull's limited edition Formula 1 can boosted the category with value sales of the 473ml pack its fastest growing SKU last year, up 136% year on year [Nielsen 2 October 2010].

Consumer understanding and more choice of pack sizes had contributed to the category's growth in impulse, explained Red Bull trade communications manager Tom Smith. "It's still relatively new but people understand S&E better and there are more pack sizes to suit different needs."

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