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Vape brand ElfBar secured the biggest value gain of all brands in grocery this year, The Grocer’s Top Products report reveals.

The Chinese-owned brand – launched in 2018 – increased its sales by £318.4m versus last year. That’s more than double the gain of second-biggest grower, cigarette brand Richmond, which added £124.6m.

The success of ElfBar drove a £434.1m increase in sales across the wider vaping market – making it 2022’s biggest-growing grocery category. Its gains towered over that of second-biggest grower – carbonates – which added £264.3m.

“Vaping is no longer a niche activity only undertaken by a small number of die-hard enthusiasts,” said John Dunne, director general of the UK Vaping Industry Association, “and this data shows that huge numbers of smokers recognise it as a far better alternative to cigarettes.

“This is clearly great news for retailers and as vaping becomes more normalised, we can expect strong sales to continue,” he added.

Having won initial listings with its disposable device at independent vape stores, ElfBar quickly expanded into convenience stores and forecourts, and has secured listings at major supermarkets throughout this year. As Londis retailer Atul Sodha put it: “Disposables are a product innovation that you can’t help but recognise as a must-stock in store”.

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Daisy Luo, ElfBar country lead, said the brand’s progress to date “only marks a small step in our marathon”.

“The growth in vaping has indeed been remarkable this year,” said Liam Humberstone, engagement lead at the Independent British Vape Trade Association and technical director at vape retailer and brand Totally Wicked. “Even more remarkable is that it has been broadly incremental.”

Indeed, the rise in disposables hasn’t come at the cost of other formats. British American Tobacco-owned Vuse, which primarily sells pods, saw the 10th-biggest gain of all grocery brands at nearly £70m.

Vaping’s gains contrast with the fortunes of cigarettes. Despite four cigarettes being among the top 10 fastest-growing brands this year – Richmond, Embassy, Players and Sterling – the broader category was the biggest loser, shedding £795.1m versus last year. Roll your own tobacco was also suckered with £194.8m fewer sales.

But booze suffered the most in this year’s survey. Of the 10 biggest category losers, half were alcoholic. Spirits, table wine, lager, ale and stout, and cider all saw huge declines as custom returned to the on-trade. Spirits alone saw sales drop by £752.2m.

Soft drinks, however, are thriving. Carbonates and energy drinks enjoyed large gains, driven by the likes of Coca-Cola and Red Bull