Soda top products

Large multipacks of cola and lemonade sold well this year as Brits sought mixers for at-home drinking occasions

Bigger was better for soft drinks this year. In terms of formats, at least. With pubs and restaurants off limits, Brits stocked up on large bottles and multipacks of cola and lemonade to use as mixers for nights in front of Netflix.

As such, volume sales in the carbonates market are up by 6.7%. That means an extra 187.9 million litres have gone through tills.

And it was the big brands that benefited most. The leading names in soft drinks added value “by pushing larger packs, which consumers are looking for while they have been at home more” says Josh Tombs, client analytics executive at Nielsen. “The 24-pack can has been a real winner for Coca-Cola and Pepsi.” In fact, it’s helped the cola giants generate an extra £139.4m between them this year, despite the fall in on-the-go occasions.

Coke drove its sales by highlighting the ‘big match in’ occasion, running an on-pack promotion across nearly 300 million units as part of its partnership with the Premier League. “Watching football at home ordinarily presents a £1.4bn opportunity to retailers each year, and with stadiums closed to fans for the foreseeable future, this is likely to increase,” says Simon Harrison, VP for commercial development at Coca-Cola European Partners GB. “So, we’ve been helping fans recreate the matchday experience at home with team shirts instead of tickets to live matches.”


Watch: How lockdown is shaping the soft drinks category sponsored by Coca-Cola European Partners


CCEP also enjoyed value gains for its Fanta, Dr Pepper and Schweppes brands. They’re collectively worth £15.9m more and have seen their average prices go up too – which Harrison puts down to consumers opting for larger packs.

While Brits have swept up soda with enthusiasm, they’ve been less motivated when it comes to energy drinks – where brands have sold 9.9 million fewer litres. Market leader Red Bull has been buoyed in part by being a popular mixer with vodka, but unit sales of number two brand Lucozade Energy are flat.

Carol Robert, chief operating officer at Lucozade owner Suntory Beverage & Food, puts this down to the slump in impulse occasions. Worse off is Lucozade Sport. Its volumes are down 16.5% largely due to a lack of group exercise.

“Both those occasions were significantly impacted through Covid, and smaller formats declined quite radically,” Roberts adds. “So, impulse declined by about 15% to 20% and consumers were buying more products that were relevant for the at-home occasion.”

Nevertheless, she’s certain energy brands “are perfectly equipped to meet the at-home occasion, and some have had to adapt their strategy”. Lucozade Energy is one of those, having added 12-can and 24-can packs.


Top Products 2020

In association with Nielsen

Top 10 Carbonates      
        £m £ change %
Total volume change: 6.7%   Total Category: 3205.3 171.3 5.6
      Total Own Label: 146.0 -3.1 -2.1
This year’s rank Last year’s rank Brand Manufacturer £m change (£m) change (%)
1 1 Coca-Cola CCEP 1408.2 58.6 4.3
2 2 Pepsi Pepsico 663.9 80.8 13.9
3 3 Fanta CCEP 219.5 2.1 0.9
4 4 Irn-Bru AG Barr 123.7 2.3 1.9
5 5 Dr Pepper CCEP 111.2 1.4 1.3
6 6 Schweppes CCEP 71.4 12.4 21.1
7 8 7 Up Pepsico 58.1 13.2 29.4
8 7 Sprite CCEP 47.1 –4.2 –8.2
9 9 Tango Britvic 46.6 10.7 29.9
10 10 Barr AG Barr 40.8 6.2 18.0


Top 5 Sports & Energy Drinks
        £m £ change %
Total volume change: -2.3%   Total Category: 1354.0 21.2 1.6
      Total Own Label: 24.7 -3.5 -12.6
This year’s rank Last year’s rank Brand Manufacturer £m change (£m) change (%)
1 1 Red Bull Red Bull 399.1 23.3 6.2
2 2 Lucozade Suntory 302.1 –11.5 –3.8
3 3 Monster CCEP 286.3 43.1 17.7
4 4 Lucozade Suntory 111.3 –16.7 –13.1
5 6 Relentless CCEP 42.0 –2.2 –5.0



The Grocer’s Top Launch

Jimmy's coffee cola

Coffee Cola, Jimmy’s

Iced coffee maker Jimmy’s has made its first foray into carbonates with this coffee cola: a mix of cold brew coffee and the brand’s own cola recipe. It was unveiled in March, just before the arrival of Covid-19. The virus led to a marketing push being put on hold, but rollout to retail went ahead as planned. Described as “a sparkling, mouth-refreshing palate cleanser with a little caffeine hit”, Coffee Cola is also available via the Jimmy’s subscription service that kicked off in July.


Top Products Survey 2020: How Food Came Home