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Top three soda brands Coke, Pepsi and Fanta have all racked up sizeable value gains

To get ahead in the past year, the likes of CCEP, Britvic and Red Bull have had to be flexible with their formats. “First people wanted multiserve products to consume at home,” says NielsenIQ senior analytical executive Josh Tombs. “As restrictions were relaxed in March, the trend was reversed.”

That singles are back in business has had a profound effect on sales, which have soared £386m across carbonate and energy drinks. Value is up at nearly twice the rate of volumes. Carbonates are up 5.6% in value on volumes up 3.6%. Sports & energy drinks have grown 15.2% in value, while volumes are up 8.5%.

Top three soda brands Coke, Pepsi and Fanta have all racked up sizeable value gains as a result. But it’s Monster Energy, up by £105.9m, that’s the year’s fastest grower. That comes on top of the £43.1m surge reported for the brand in last year’s Top Products.

“Amid the decline of the impulse mission when the pandemic first took hold, Monster pivoted quickly to reach consumers in the home and has continued to do so ever since,” says Martin Attock, VP for commercial development at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners GB. “To tap at-home consumption, a number of variants have launched in four-packs this year.”

Rival Red Bull also hails the success of its take-home formats as a key driver of its £79.8m growth, claiming it was shifting a four-pack every 2.5 seconds. “Energy drinks managed to keep growing throughout the pandemic, and then enjoyed a turbo-boost in sales as restrictions were lifted,” says Tombs.

On the flip side, “sports drinks suffered during lockdown with restricted movement and closure of leisure facilities,” Tombs adds.   Brands have only started to recover in the latter part of this year.

This is illustrated the performance of Lucozade, which was hit hard by the collapse of singles in lockdown. Lucozade Energy is flat, and Lucozade Sport is recovering from a dire 2020, growing by £13.4m.

Its pivot into larger packs proved a little late. The launch of 12x330ml packs of Lucozade Energy and 6x380ml packs of Zero Pink Lemonade came in April, just as lockdown began to lift. 

But Lucozade owner Suntory Beverage & Food is optimistic about the future. “The popularity of multipacks and larger formats continues,” says sales director Alpesh Mistry. “That said, we’re seeing signs of growth in on-the-go formats in recent months, suggesting the impulse mission is well and truly back.”

The brand is also investing in NPD to revive its fortunes, launching Zero Tropical and Energy Raspberry Ripple in the summer and Alert in September.

Top launch 2021

Sodastream Pepsi syrups | PepsiCo

pepsi co sodastream

It’s about time. PepsiCo bought Sodastream in summer 2018 for £2.5bn, but the US soft drinks giant took until this September to add syrups of its biggest brands. Pepsi, Pepsi Max, 7up and 7up Free concentrates (rsp: £4.99/440ml) each make nine litres of soda when combined with water and then carbonated. It’s a big launch that befits the big money PepsiCo spent on Sodastream – and comes after a good few years of the home carbonation brand ramping up its presence in UK grocery.

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