This report provides an overview of the global soft drinks industry in 2018, with topline forecasts at the category level for each region, category and top countries. Areas of growth are identified alongside the top five macro trends expected to shape the global beverage industry and consumer over the next five-years.
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Over the last five-years, bottled water accounted for 96% of the liquid volume growth in global soft drinks across off-trade, bulk retail and on-trade channels. Generating value in a drinks industry increasingly dominated by water is perhaps the core strategic challenge of beverages long-term, utilising flavour, sourcing, packaging and functional ingredients to create new, high-growth premium tiers in water.
Soft drinks packaging is the number one source of rigid plastic waste across consumer industries, with no forecast reduction over the short-term. In addition to mounting concern over single-use packaging, the industry faces mounting pressure to address long-term issues relating to water security, water scarcity, and fair water rights in many regions.
Consumer awareness of sugar-reduction is high, with almost half of global consumers citing limited or no-added sugar as a food and beverage priority according to a recent Lifestyle Survey. However, there remain vast differences in preferred sugar reduction strategies, linked to divergent regional and generational attitudes to artificial sweeteners, flavoured water alternatives, and the tolerance of less-sweet product formulations.
Beverage brands are seeking growth ‘between the cracks’ of existing retail channels of trade to find new consumer occasions for beverage growth, including automated retail and public/institutional venues outside the home. Similarly, there’s an urgent need to stimulate beverage sales in foodservice: on-trade soft drinks’ growth has generally lagged behind retail, but represents an opportunity given strong growth in meals consumed outside the home.
Functionality in beverages is evolving from simply energy and hydration to a broader list of need-states and ingredients. Drinks for relaxation, strength, gut health, beauty, and general well-being can be a long term value driver in beverages. Packaged soft drinks will form a bigger part of preventative health regimens and play more of an everyday, throughout-the-day role in wellness.