Coca-Cola has become the first brand to top £1bn in annual UK grocery sales.

Sales of the total Coca-Cola brand jumped £47.6m in the past year taking its total to £1,011.1m [Nielsen 52w/e 26 December 2009].

The Diet variant alone is almost twice as big as Pepsi, but the core red Coke really drove growth over the past year, with sales up by 5.3%.

"We're delighted Coke has reached £1bn in retail sales," said Simon Baldry, managing director of Coca-Cola Enterprises.

"Our research has identified further opportunities to grow the category and we're working with our customers on plans to unlock extra sales.

"Coke will play a key role in achieving this as we activate our sponsorship of the FIFA World Cup this year and the London Olympics in 2012."

Lunchtime meal deals had been particularly important to brand growth and would continue to be over the coming year, added CCE vice-president of sales and customer development Ian Deste.

But Coca-Cola wasn't the only winner in 2009. Value sales of Unilever's laundry brand Surf increased by 26.7% to £93.1m the biggest value increase of any brand in The Grocer's Britain's Biggest Brands listing on volume growth of 26.6%.

However, Surf was just pipped to the post in the stakes for the biggest volume increase by Chicago Town pizza, which shot up 28.8% in volume and 24.9% in value to £97.0m. These were in stark contrast to rivals Goodfella's and Bold, which fell 15.1% and 10.6% in value respectively.

Britain's 100 biggest brands grew sales by 4.5% overall. The improvement comes as brands continued to confound expectations, growing at twice the rate of own label up 6.6% compared with own-label growth of 3.2% [Kantar Worldpanel 52w/e 21 February].

This time last year, value sales of own-label products were booming up 7.2% while brands lagged behind at 6%.

"We keep being told that people are buying more own-label, but that's all but evaporated now," said Kantar communications ­director Ed Garner, adding that price promotions have played a major role in ­retaining consumer loyalty.

Trust had also been a key factor in the success of brands during the recession, claimed big brand owners such as Kellogg's, P&G and Unilever.

"People have chosen to go back to brands for a number of reasons, including trust, quality and trading up as they're eating at home more," said Unilever chairman Dave Lewis.

The biggest risers and fallers
Surf, Unilever: Value +26.7%, volume +26.6%
Chicago Town, Dr Oetker: Value +24.9%, volume +28.8%
Bold, Procter & Gamble: Value -10.6%, volume -27.7%
Goodfella's, Northern Foods: Value -15.1% Volume -9.3%

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