Sugar-free shift accelerates
Irish consumers are turning away from sugar-based drinks at an ever-increasing pace, according to Britvic Ireland managing director Kevin Donnelly.
Soft drinks businesses are facing a significant challenge when a proposed sugar tax introduced in Budget 2017 is due to come into force in April 2018.
Mr Donnelly said the trend towards zero or low sugar drinks has already been evident since 2012, and that the pace of change in customer preference for healthier drinks was picking up.
"We are seeing a strong shift in consumer preference with people becoming more inclined to buy no or low sugar products. We have reformulated a lot of our offerings over the past number of years and are finding that consumers are increasingly inclined to go for low or no sugar offerings," Mr Donnelly said.
Mr Donnelly added that Britvic's Ballygowan brand had been at the forefront of first quarter growth figures which came in at 6.4pc. The company's brands also include Miwadi and Robinsons Fruit Shoots.
"Ballygowan has been particularly strong, with mid-double digit growth over the past two years. Given that Ballygowan is the market leader in water, that is a phenomenal performance," he added.
A very strong quarter in the pub trade helped Britvic Ireland's Counterpoint business.
"Counterpoint performed extremely well in this quarter, particularly in cities and even more so in Dublin. Anyone, who has been out around the capital in the last few months can tell you that things are pretty strong in the pub trade at the moment".
A 6.4pc rise in first quarter sales at Britvic Ireland beat the 4.3pc revenue increase reported by its parent yesterday. Group sales in the quarter were £351m (€409m).