Top launch: Volvic Touch of Fruit Sparkling - Danone

With the fizzy pop giants moving in on bottled water, Danone is launching products similar to its new rivals’ core offerings. Touch of Fruit Sparkling has contributed 12.8% to bottled water NPD sales in the past year, even if it does taste a bit like lemonade. Sweetened with sugar and stevia, the range comes in lemon & lime, mango & passion fruit and strawberry & raspberry flavours (rsp: 99p/920ml). Danone wants annual sales of £25m in two years.

The UK soft drinks sector is a land of giants. Four names dominate the bestsellers lists in this category, and CCE, Britvic Nestlé Waters and Danone have put more than £3.3bn through the tills in the past year.

Now they’re going to war over the only soft drinks category in serious growth: bottled water, which Brits have chugged an extra 153.7 million litres (9.3%) of in the past year, spending £82.1m (9.4%) more on the stuff. 

Glaceau Smartwater has contributed the most to this, with growth worth £16.6m. “We see a lot of potential in Smartwater, which we launched about a year ago and is already worth in excess of £18m in retail sales,” says Coca-Cola Enterprises general manager Leendert den Hollander. “We have a distribution opportunity. If you look at which retailers sell the most water, it’s not the traditional grocers. We’re in places like WH Smith, which sells a lot. But from my perspective it isn’t in enough places.”

CCE isn’t the only fizzy pop giant moving into water. Britvic’s water portfolio has added £5.7m, with Robinsons Hydro helping to drive 32.5% growth in the brand’s flavoured waters to £8.1m and Ballygowan surging in triple digits to £4.1m. With carbonates (see p184) suffering in the sugar backlash, water’s attractions for CCE and Britvic are clear. 

With them up against two of the world’s biggest food & drink companies - Danone and Nestlé - the scene is set for a clash of the titans. Danone has invested heavily in flavour innovations, with Volvic Touch of Fruit Sparkling the biggest launch of the year, and our Top Launch (see below). “Touch of Fruit Sparkling has been a major success, contributing 28% of Volvic’s total growth,” says Danone head of marketing Sarah Dossett.  

Nestlé Waters, meanwhile, has ramped up advertising spend on its premium San Pellegrino brand, which sells for more than twice the market average. The majority of its budget went on TV advertising hammering home its Italian heritage. 

The only top 10 water in decline is flavoured functional brand Glaceau Vitaminwater, which has lost £2.5m partly because of the trend that’s continuing to sap sales of squashes & cordials: fear over sugar content. CCE says it’s focusing on “widening the appeal” of the range with two new zero-calorie options launched in March and June.

Squashes number one Robinsons went further in January. “We delisted our core added sugar range, which effectively removed 6.9bn calories from the category,” says Britvic’s commercial director, Phil Sanders. It also contributed to £20.8m in Robinsons sales being removed, but Sanders is optimistic. “It’s been a year of innovations for Robinsons.”

TOP 10 Bottled water   SALES
        £m change (£m) change (%)
Total volume change: 9.3% Total Category 959.9 82.1 9.4
      Total Own Label 253.8 10.1 4.1
1 1 Volvic Danone 171.6 9.3 5.7
2 2 Evian Danone 151.3 12.1 8.7
3 3 Buxton Nestlé Waters 97.6 9.4 10.7
4 4 Highland Spring Highland Spring 87.5 3.1 3.7
5 5 Pure Life Nestlé Waters 41.3 8.5 26.1
6 6 San Pellegrino Nestlé Waters 25.9 3.1 13.8
7 23 Glaceau Smartwater CCE 18.2 16.6 1,038.20
8 7 Glaceau Vitaminwater CCE 13.7 –2.5 –15.5
9 8 Brecon Carreg Spadel 9.3 0.4 4.7
10 9 Macb Scottish Water Sangs 8.5 1.4 20




TOP 5 Squashes & cordials   SALES
        £m change (£m) change (%)
Total volume change: –5.0% Total Category 473.4 –39.9 –7.8
      Total Own Label 140.4 –14.4 –9.3
1 1 Robinsons Britvic 191 –20.8 –9.8
2 2 Ribena Suntory 48.9 –4.1 –7.8
3 3 Vimto Nichols 35.7 0 –0.1
4 5 Bottle Green Bottle Green Drinks 12.3 –0.3 –2.1
5 4 Jucee Princes Soft Drinks 10.9 –2.3 –17.5