Fizzy drinks and chocolate: a £196M hit with consumers

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Caffeine Chocolate

Canned cola, chocolates and ready meals proved key must-buys last year
Canned cola, chocolates and ready meals proved key must-buys last year
Canned cola, canned sports drinks and chocolate confectionery are the fastest growing grocery categories, worth an addition £196M in sales last year compared with 2010, said market research firm SymphonyIRI Group.

UK consumers spent an extra £76M on canned cola last year, which was a 13% increase in volume sales since 2010. Soaring sales were achieved despite a 4.1% rise in the cost of canned cola during the same period, noted the research firm.

The second most popular category was canned sport drinks category, which racked up an extra £67.3M in sales. The sports drink category grew by more than 28% in volume last year compared with 2010. During the same period prices fell by 7.5%.

Various chocolate categories notched up a tasty additional £52.7M in sales last year. Products such as boxed chocolates from luxury chocolatiers performed particularly well. The researchers attributed this growth to big price reductions.

High levels of promotion

“Of all of the categories listed, this category ​[boxed chocolates] showed the greatest reduction in prices paid and this is mainly due to high levels of promotion within the industry,”​ according to a statement from the research firm.

Tim Eales, the firm’s director of strategic insight, said quality remained important to discriminating UK consumers. “Despite the economic downturn and a real drive by consumers to find more value in their weekly grocery shops, some ‘treat’ products like canned drinks and chocolate fail to make the cut. It seems there is no alternative to the items that can satisfy the British sweet tooth.”

In addition to fizzy drinks and chocolates, consumers spent nearly £117M on ready meals; £27M on fruit bags (bags of mixed sliced fruit) more than £11M on instant hot cereal.

“This demonstrates the overwhelming need for convenience in our lives, often at the expense of paying a higher price when the alternative could be much cheaper,”​ said Eales.

But there the economic downturn is beginning to bite as consumers look for other ways to save, he added. More than £20M extra was spent on cooking / baking margarine and dry cake mix reflecting the growing popularity of home-baking as a means to save money.

An additional £37M was spent on mild and mature cheddar last year, indicating that consumers recognise cheese as a cheaper source of protein compared with expensive meats and fish, said Eales.

Relentless reduction

“Consumers will have been changed by the experience of the recession. We have seen a slow but relentless reduction of disposable income against a backdrop of higher prices in almost every area of consumer expenditure,”​ he added.

“Under those conditions a lot of people have to change how they spend and save and even those that are technically immune​ (because they can afford the extra) are caught up in the reaction. Shoppers are becoming more frugal, but convenience is still a factor, and our research shows that during these difficult times, consumers continue to treat themselves with fizzy drinks and chocolate.”

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