Research by leading soft drinks’ manufacturer Lucozade Ribena Suntory (LRS) reveals that by encouraging shoppers to choose a soft drink with their meals and snacks, retailers could unlock £215m-worth of extra sales.

"There is an opportunity for retailers to take advantage of the almost one billion out-of-home eating opportunities that happen each year," says Matt Gouldsmith, channel director for wholesale at LRS. "Stocking a wide range of interesting and complementary soft drink flavours will encourage consumers to choose a soft drink with their meals and snacks."

The company’s research found that overall there is an opportunity to grow the total soft drinks category by £1.4bn, with the ’with food’ opportunity worth £215m, and £35.1m specifically in the convenience channel.

The research revealed that to drive the ’with food’ opportunity, retailers need to help shoppers on this mission buy drinks on four more trips per year.

"The main components of a food-to-go shopper’s basket are carbonated soft drinks, sandwiches, single bags of crisps and bakery items so these categories should be the building blocks of meal deals offered in store. Secondary sites for these categories for example a small crisps fixture attached to the chiller will help to drive cross-category spend and point shoppers towards the meal deal opportunity," says Gouldsmith.

Recent project work undertaken by LRS saw sandwich sales grow in some stores by as much as 86% when meal deal solutions were introduced and highlighted using simple communication tools, helping to make the fixture easy to shop for those on the meal-deal mission.

"There is opportunity to grow the ’with food’ occasion in convenience stores, particularly at lunchtimes where 51% buy food but no soft drink," adds Gouldsmith.

According to Britvic’s last Soft Drinks Review, soft drinks are the most popular category purchased in the food-to-go occasion, but 47% of these occasions don’t include a soft drink purchase (45% for lunchtime occasions). With meal occasions, the number of purchases without a soft drink increases even further to 83% of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack purchases not including a soft drink. Britvic says that as shoppers’ expectations of meal- deal occasions have now spread throughout the day, they are looking for deals around breakfast offerings, snacking and meals for tonight. Snacking is the occasion with the highest number of average monthly visits per person (6.2 visits) followed by lunch (4.5); with breakfast (2.5) the only category showing an increase in visits (+2%), so it should be a key focus for meal- deal activity. The biggest barrier to purchasing more food and drink on food-to-go occasions is having no (27%) or a poor (17%) meal deal offer.

Amy Burgess, senior trade communications manager at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), says meal deals are good at giving a high perception of value. "Forecourts can maximise the potential of these offers by stocking all of the products for the deal together, complete with pos signposting the deal.

"This will increase convenience for shoppers looking to pick up their meal quickly, encouraging them to take advantage of the offer and increasing the likelihood of repeat custom."

Proven sales driver

Another proven sales driver, across all food and drink, is of course the promotional pack; and to attract new customers to try its range of fruity energy drinks, Carabao Energy Drinks is running a special 79p promotion in forecourts during the spring/summer. BP, Euro Garages and Rontec are all taking part with BP carrying the 79p promotion from May 5 to June 1, Euro Garages carrying it from April 2 to April 22 then again from June 4 to June 24; and Rontec having the packs from May 6 to June 2.

Prior to this price activity, new Carabao Mixed Berry is set to hit shelves during March and April. The company says it has recognised a huge category opportunity for a berry-flavoured energy drink, as it is a known and much-loved soft drink flavour but is currently under-represented in the energy drink sector. The Euromonitor Soft Drinks report estimates that 521 million litres of berry-flavoured soft drinks are sold annually with just 1.3% of this accounted for by berry- flavoured energy drinks. Consumer research by Carabao saw its Mixed Berry flavour receive a highly favourable response from consumers. This 2019 study from Triyit found that 84% of Carabao consumers expressed an interest in Mixed Berry when asked which Carabao flavour they would like to explore next. Moreover, 44% of interested shoppers said they would either buy the new flavour in addition to their usual purchase or buy it instead of a different (non-energy drink) product, indicating that Carabao Mixed Berry is likely to be highly incremental to the energy drinks category.

As with the rest of the Carabao range, Mixed Berry has a fruity taste yet contains 60% less sugar than its major rivals and just 63 calories per can.

Another new line to look for is Lucozade Revive, a new sub-brand designed to bring a different set of shoppers to the energy category.

Lucozade Revive is a lightly sparkling, naturally flavoured fruit-based drink, available in two flavours Lemon & Lime and Orange & Passionfruit in 380ml recyclable bottles (available in standard and price-marked packs; rrp £1.49 and £1.25 respectively) and a four x 380ml multipack.

The drink is designed to combat some of the barriers that stop consumers buying into the energy category. It has natural fruit flavours and no artificial colours, and contains vitamins B3, B5, B6 & B12 to help reduce tiredness. It is sweetened with a balance of Stevia and sugar (4.3g sugar per 100ml).

Lucozade Revive is designed to sit within the energy category in the chiller away from ’Everyday Energy’ and ’Stimulation’ but alongside ’better for you’ energy drinks such as iced tea, iced coffee and ’emerging energy’ drinks. The sub-brand is aimed at shoppers who don’t buy into the energy drinks category 59% of the UK population but who are looking for a naturally inspired uplift during their day.

Zoe Trimble, head of marketing at Lucozade, says: "Lucozade Revive reflects the switch we are seeing as shoppers are looking more and more for an ’everyday’ lift that carries credible wellness credentials.

"We know some shoppers don’t buy into the broader energy category for different reasons some are put off by the taste of some brands, others are worried about health, and some simply don’t like the brand positioning of some drinks. Lucozade Revive is designed to combat those barriers and help bring in new or lapsed energy shoppers.

Natasha Baranowski, Lucozade Revive senior brand manager, says: "Lucozade Revive offers a different type of energy for shoppers. It’s not a boost or a buzz, it’s a naturally inspired uplift that makes drinkers feel revitalised and back in the groove. Revive has natural fruit flavours, no artificial colours, and vitamins B3, B5, B6 and B12 to help reduce tiredness."

The launch of Lucozade Revive will be heavily supported during 2020 through a marketing campaign including in-store pos material, sampling and targeted out-of-home advertising.

Finally, at Cotswold Fayre soft drinks account for 13% of its overall sales and the wholesaler’s SKU count has increased by 18 lines year-on-year.

Paul Hargreaves, chief executive at Cotswold Fayre, says: "Soft drinks offer one of the best rates of sale per SKU, so without question retailers should make room for a vibrant mix of artisan and mainstream products including a selection of ambient and chilled."

At Cotswold Fayre, he says the top-selling soft and milk drinks brands for convenience stores are currently Rude Health Milk Alternative drinks; Belvoir Presse particularly elderflower; Fever Tree tonic water; Coconut Collective coconut milk; Shaken Udder milkshake; LA Brewery Kombucha drinks; and Johnson’s Fresh Juice bottles.

And Hargreaves points to four new products that he expects to be successful. TRIP CBD drinks are crafted with natural adaptogens, rich in antioxidants to support immunity, focus and relief from stress. Available in 250ml bottles, rrp £3.49 there are three flavours: Infused Cold Brew Coffee, Infused Drink with Adaptogens (Elderflower Mint) and infused Drink with Adaptogens (Peach Ginger).

Then there’s Remedy Kombucha, which Hargreaves describes as "tasty drinks with sweet and sour flavours" containing healthy, living cultures (aka good bacteria) and organic acids that are good for your gut and overall wellbeing.

From Lo Bros there is Organic Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic which is naturally low in sugar, certified organic and contains millions of bio-cultures per bottle.

Finally, there is Radnor Infusions, crafted in the ancient county of Radnorshire using their own spring water with a gentle sparkle, delicately infused with all-natural flavours and extracts and no sugar or sweeteners.

Coke’s marine plastic bottle

Coca-Cola has unveiled its first-ever sample bottle made using recovered and recycled marine plastics. With this it aims to demonstrate that one day, even ocean debris could be used in recycled packaging for food or drinks.
Through a partnership between Ioniqa Technologies, Indorama Ventures, Mares Circulares (Circular Seas) and The Coca-Cola Company, about 300 sample bottles were made using 25% recycled marine plastic retrieved from the Mediterranean and its beaches.
The bottles were designed and developed to show the transformational potential of revolutionary enhanced recycling technologies, which can recycle previously used PET plastics of any quality back to high-quality plastic that can be used for food or drink packaging, including material that would previously have been sent to incineration or landfill. 
The marine plastic bottle has been developed as ’proof of concept’ for what the technology may achieve in time. In the immediate term, enhanced recycling will be introduced at commercial scale using waste streams from existing recyclers, including previously unrecyclable plastics and lower-quality recyclables. From 2020, Coca-Cola plans to roll out this enhanced recycled content in some of its bottles.
A newly formed Packaging Innovation Hub will continue to focus and accelerate investment and innovation in sustainable packaging solutions across Western Europe. These include continuing investment in enhanced recycling technologies.

new products

Robinsons has added a Blackberry & Blueberry flavour to its Fruit Creations range. It contains no added sugar but twice the fruit of the core range. It comes in a 1ltr bottle, rrp £1.99.
Clearly Drinks is relaunching its Perfectly Clear flavoured water brand with a new fruitier product and more distinct visual identity. New flavours being added to the range include Orange & Mango and Peach & Apricot, sold in 330ml, 500ml and 1.5ltr bottles. The relaunch will be supported by an integrated marketing campaign from May including a national TV ad, print and online advertising.
Sublime Lime is the latest addition to the Diet Coke range. The launch is backed by a multi-million pound campaign.
The latest launch from Friesland Campina is on-the-go coffee drink, Barista Coffee Co, which is exclusively available to the convenience sector. There are two flavours, in 250ml bottles: traditional Caffe Latte and Caramel Latte.
AG Barr says Le Joli, sparkling water infused with natural flavours, meets the needs of health-conscious shoppers who are looking for great- tasting products free of sugar and any artificial additives.

Will your minute win it?

A new on-pack promotion called ’Will Your Minute Win It?’ is launching across Coca-Cola original taste and Coca-Cola zero sugar, giving fans the chance to win thousands of football prizes including a weekly grand prize of playing a match with a Premier League player.
The new promotion, which is part of Coca-Cola’s Where Everyone Plays campaign, is appearing on large take-home PET bottles and multipack cans. Each pack includes unique codes that fans can enter into the ’Will Your Minute Win It?’ weekly competition. 
Fans will be directed to the promotional website where, upon sign-up, they will be allocated a minute in an upcoming Sunday 4.30pm match, picking up a prize if a goal is scored during that time. The on-pack promotion aims to help retailers drive sales of take-home packs and also meet the high demand for soft drinks during football events.
Coca-Cola European Partners GB says the promotion has a massive prize pool, with thousands of guaranteed prizes including stadium tours, match tickets, footballs, sports holdalls and NOW TV passes, as well as a weekly grand prize draw for the chance to win a VIP experience. 
The on-pack promotion will be supported by a multi-million-pound marketing campaign, including out of home, digital and social media.
Simon Harrison, vice president of commercial sevelopment at CCEP GB, says: "The ’Will Your Minute Win It?’ promotion is designed to fuel the hype for football fans by providing an additional thrill and chances to win great prizes, as well as drive sales for our customers."