It may be small, accounting for just 3% of all soft drinks sales, but the smoothie category is perfectly formed, doubling in size last year to £163m (Britvic report). However, work still needs to be done to capitalise on sales. In convenience multiples smoothies are worth £23m; within impulse £11m; and in independents a paltry £1m. But growth across these trading sectors has been spectacular, so smoothies is definitely a category to keep an eye on.
There may have been many smoothie launches over the past few years, but there really are only two brands to speak of: Innocent and PJ's. And these two, together with own label, account for 98% of all smoothie sales.
Innocent, in particular, is doing very well, holding a 66% share of the market, according to IRI data (four weeks to February 24, 2007).
This year the company is investing £8m in a marketing campaign which includes TV advertising and national sampling.
New varieties are key to keeping consumers interested, which is why Innocent recently launched a smoothie of the month.
"This gives us a chance to put new and original combinations that use unusual fruit to market on a regular basis," explains commercial director Giles Brook.
Also launched this year was the one-shot Breakfast Thickie and this month sees the introduction of the fourth Superfoods smoothie and a fourth kids' recipe.
PJ's also came out with a breakfast shot this year - called Fruit Kick - as well as a pomegranate, raspberry & cranberry flavour smoothie in 1ltr and 250ml bottles. PepsiCo marketing director Will Ghali comments on the category's success: "With more than two million more households buying into the category, smoothies is now the fastest growing segment in the chilled juice category. This has largely been driven by consumers striving to eat five portions of fruit and veg a day."
The 5-a-day message is not lost on Innocent's Brook, who is campaigning to get VAT removed from smoothies to make them more reasonably priced. "Pure fruit smoothies are currently subject to VAT, whereas foods such as turkey twizzlers and hamburgers are not, which is why we're ramping up our campaign to have VAT removed."
Sales of dairy drinks grew by 4% to reach £394m last year. The performance of the category varies widely by trade sector. For instance, in convenience multiples dairy drink sales were up 9% to £69m. And in impulse they were up 5% to £68m, however in independent outlets sales dropped 1% to just £24m.
According to Britvic's soft drinks report, Actimel and Müller Vitality took the top spots with Frijj in third place with 13% growth.
Despite being a relatively small part of the soft drinks market, there is plenty going on in the dairy drinks sub-sector, with much of the activity coming from Masterfoods' brands.
For example, from Maltesers comes what is described as the first-ever super-frothy chocolate milkshake. The new Maltesers drink has the malty, chocolatey taste of its confectionery counterpart plus Maltesers' famous bubbles delivered via a special ingredient. Consumers shake the bottle for 10 seconds to create a frothy, bubbly shake.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy drink has been relaunched with its 'creamiest ever' recipe and although made with real cream, it contains just 2% fat. It also now comes in a larger bottle. The 310ml size has a rrp of 75p.
Campina's Yazoo continues to do well and sales will no doubt be buoyed by the fact that it is one of only a few drinks allowed in schools. Alan Prior, sales and marketing director at Campina, comments: "Yazoo meets both parents' and authorities' demand for a low-fat drink with less than 5% added sugar and kids' demand for great taste."
AC Nielsen figures reveal Yazoo's sales are up 12% year on year.