Soft drinks: People want better visibility within hospitality

When you don't feel like an alcoholic drink, when you're driving, because you're teetotal or simply prefer them to the alternatives: There are lots of reasons people might go for a fizzy soft drink when eating and drinking out.

However, research has shown that nearly two in three Brits who drink carbonated soft drinks feel bars, pubs and restaurants need to make such drinks more visible.

According to the data, 24 per cent of British adults have a fizzy drink of this sort instead of an alcoholic one at least some of the time when they're out in an eatery, pub or bar.

The statistics come from the Mintel report Carbonated Soft Drinks – UK – 2014, with Mintel research in the past also suggesting that a third of people who've purchased soft drinks in bars, pubs or restaurants think there's a stigma about drinking these.

So why might fizzy soft drinks not be visible enough in this sort of location?

"That the range of CSDs [carbonated soft drinks] sold in bars, pubs and restaurants is more limited than of alcoholic beverages plays a role in their lesser visibility," suggests Mintel senior food and drink analyst Richard Ford.

"Taking cues from alcoholic beverage brands, CSD operators can help drive visibility by providing more decorative and functional branded paraphernalia to proprietors, such as bar mats and bar-top drip trays," he added.

Because soft drinks tend not to be served from draught pumps like alcoholic ones often are, the issue of low visibility is made worse, he said. Using unusually shaped glasses might play a part in helping carbonated soft drink brands stand out, he also suggested.

But overall, according to Mintel's stats, it seems that 25 per cent of Brits are not drinking as much fizzy drink now as they were six months ago. Half these drink-reducers pinpoint that a reason for this is that there's too much sugar in carbonated soft drinks.

Indeed, fizzy drink consumption has been predicted to go down this year, to a lower level than has been seen since 2010.

That year, 5.96 billion litres of soft drink fizz was consumed in Britain, and in 2011, the figure was a higher 6.17 billion litres.

The estimate for 2014 is a not quite as sparkling 5.95 billion litres.

As Mr Ford explained, the stats come at a time when there's a debate in the media about sugar's part in increasing obesity in the UK.

Carbonated soft drinks have been pinpointed as one area where improvement can be made, he added.

"As such, CSD manufacturers continue to launch lower-sugar and sugar-free variants of their standard soft drinks, the highest-profile example of which is Coca-Cola’s forthcoming launch of Coca-Cola Life, which contains a blend of sugar and the sweetener stevia leaf extract, in the UK this September," he said.

Though the fizzy drink industry has proactively acted on concerns about high sugar levels in certain drinks – with the introduction of lower calorie and lower sugar drinks – additional work must still be done, he said.

The new Mintel report also shows that the reasons people who are drinking less fizzy drink now compared to six months ago give for their move include worries about how artificial sweeteners impact health (34 per cent).

Separate Mintel stats show that 32 per cent of people who drank fruit juice, smoothies and juice drinks last year put a limit on the level of juice drinks they consume because of the amount of sugar they contain.

Other recent findings were that 55 per cent of Brits use fizzy drinks as a thirst quencher and 37 per cent have them with a meal.

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