child drinking squash pexels

’As Great Britain has unlocked, and people became mobile, squash has again fallen into decline’

The end of lockdowns spelled bad news for squash. Sales have fallen by £11.2m and supermarkets have sold 6.9 million fewer litres – the equivalent of roughly 34 million litres of diluted squash.

“With the pandemic shifting consumption into the home, demand for squash increased and at one point value growth was at levels over 30%,” says NielsenIQ analytics team lead Tom Newman, pointing to the 10.4% growth reported in last year’s report.

“But as Great Britain has unlocked, and people became mobile, squash has again fallen into decline over the last few months.”

Joanna Watling, Princes Group commercial director for soft drinks, agrees the tables have turned since the easing of Covid measures. “The squash category has faced some challenges in maintaining the growth seen during the first and second lockdowns as consumers are spending less time at home,” she says. Market leader Robinsons has borne the brunt of this decline, losing £7.8m on volumes down 4%.

All is not lost, however. Category sales are still up by £38m on 2019’s figures and Robinsons is up £9.4m.

In April, Robinsons owner Britvic told The Grocer it was pursuing a ‘good, better, best’ strategy for its portfolio, using its Double Concentrate lines as its ‘good’ foundation.  Products such as Creations and the glass bottled Fruit Cordials products were its ‘better’ and ‘best’ offerings.

It makes sense. Strong value growth for Bottlegreen and Belvoir – up 9.7% and 5.6% respectively – suggests demand for more premium squashes and cordials.

Other brands are trumpeting their health credentials to keep in Brits’ good books. Robinsons is pushing a quartet of portable squashes with functional claims  – Immunity, Boost, Focus and Vitality – while Jucee has been rebranded to highlight its added vitamin C and D and low calorie content.

Water, meanwhile, has fared better with the easing of Covid restrictions. Overall, sales are up £62.6m. Volvic and Evian were the fastest growing brands, up £22.8m and £16.2m respectively. Next are Buxton and San Pellegrino, up a combined £18.2m.

Nestlé Waters head of commercial development Ammad Durrani says demand for take-home packs has “stuck with shoppers”.

Nielsen’s Newman sums up: “Squash and water have followed polar opposite trajectories. Mineral water was in growth pre-pandemic, fell into unprecedented decline and has recovered as people look to hydrate on the go once more.”

No wonder squash brands are pushing portable lines again.

Top launch 2021

10-litre pack | Highland Spring

highland spring water

As on-the-go and impulse occasions almost disappeared during lockdowns, Highland Spring took aim at staycations and big weekly shops. The bottled water giant added this 10-litre pack (rsp: £4.75) in March, promising a longer shelf life than other formats. In fact, it stays fresh for around four weeks once opened – compared with the brand’s single-serve bottle, which has a seven-day shelf life. The big pack “has taken to the market well” notes NielsenIQ analyst Tom Newman.

The Grocer’s Top Products Survey 2021: who’s up, who’s down – and our overview of the key trends