The top 10 water brands on UK supermarket shelves

Five of the top 10 water brands have felt the impact of the summer slump

Patchy summer weather put a dampener on bottled water sales this year. Although market value has risen 9.1%, that’s due entirely to higher prices. Volumes are down by 3.7% or 54.6 million litres.

Five of the top 10 brands have felt the impact of that slump: Volvic, Evian, Highland Spring, Glacéau and Macb. “The brands in decline struggled because of falling rate of sale, with a strong impact from the cooler months, particularly coming from multiserve formats,” explains Ayushi Tewari, NIQ senior analytics executive.

The five brands to grow volumes were “primarily driven by a good shelf presence and availability, particularly in the impulse channel”, Tewari says. Three of these – Buxton, Pure Life and San Pellegrino – are owned by Nestlé Waters. They’ve collectively added £35.4m and shifted 4.5 million more litres.

Paying fair prices for bottled water

This comes from catering to “a diverse spectrum of shopper and consumer needs and varied occasions”, says Mike Smith, Nestlé Waters UK head of commercial development. He lists drinking water on the go, keeping the family hydrated at home and “celebrating a special moment with friends in a restaurant” as some of those occasions.

“Our priority remains to ensure that consumers have affordable access to the products and brands they know and love, while still paying fair prices to our suppliers,” he adds.

In squash & cordials, far fewer brands have had a year worth boasting about. Just seven of the top 30 are in volume growth.

One relative success story is number three brand Ribena. Although in volume decline, it’s down just 2% – way behind the overall category rate of 10.7%.

There is an ongoing opportunity for brands to cater to at-home occasions, says Alpesh Mistry, sales director at Ribena owner Suntory Beverage & Food. “The double-whammy of Covid-19 and the cost of living crisis has helped keep take-home drinks very firmly on the agenda,” he adds.

Shopper shifting to tap water

That’s echoed by Angela Reay, marketing director at Vimto maker Nichols. “As shoppers spend more time at home and implement cost-saving initiatives, we are seeing a shift to tap water,” she explains. “This presents a key opportunity for squash to provide flavour and functionality.” 

The growing wellbeing trend has also spurred “health-based renovation and innovation” at the brand, she adds.  “We’re proud our UK packaged portfolio is 100% HFSS compliant, and all of our flavour range is no added sugar and offers added nutritional benefits in the form of vitamin fortification.”

With that many selling points, who needs hot weather?

Top Launch 2023

Liquid Death | Liquid Death

Liquid Death range

In April, trendy US water supplier Liquid Death added the “first-ever celebrity-endorsed luxury enema” in partnership with Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker. That same week, the $130m (£105m) brand announced it was to make its UK debut via Amazon. By August it had bagged listings in Co-op and Nisa for Mountain Water, Sparkling Water (rsp: £1.99), Mango Chainsaw and Severed Lime (rsp: £2.49). They’re now in Tesco, too – in a 500ml can bearing the strapline ‘Murder your thirst’.

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