here’s plenty of new product development in the functional drinks sector where sales are up 9%.

Leading the charge of the functional drink brigade is Red Bull, the UK’s best selling energy drink and in the news after a Scottish off licence chain banned it from being sold to under-16s because of concerns over its high caffeine content.

A spokesman for Red Bull has said the drink contains the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. The publicity about the ban will probably do the drink no harm. AC Nielsen says it is the second biggest selling single serve soft drink SKU by value in total impulse, independents and convenience grocers (12w/e Dec 25, 2004).

Henry Dummer, category planning controller, out of home impulse, GlaxoSmithKline, says that while carbonates continue to decline, functional drinks are showing huge growth in terms of value sales and profit potential. However, he adds that because of limited shelf space they need to stick to strong sellers such as Lucozade Energy, which recorded a 7.8% year-on-year increase in value sales (AC Nielsen, value sales of energy drinks, total impulse MAT May 14 2005).

A new Lucozade Energy 380ml four-pack has just been made available to the independent sector. Smaller than the six-pack available through the major grocery multiples, it is easier for consumers to carry and has a lower price point. Says Dummer: “The benefit for independent retailers is increased weight of purchase - encouraging consumers to buy more units.”

Meanwhile, fruit juice is enjoying a boost from other benefits too. Read any of the health pages in the national press and you’ll find articles about the wonders of the pomegranate as an antioxidant. POM Wonderful is just one of the new branded pomegranate drinks.

Earlier this year, mainstream brand Tropicana relaunched its healthy range under the Essentials name. The four-strong range comprises: multivitamins - 12 fruit juices with five extra vitamins; calcium - orange juice with added calcium; fibre - four fruits and carrot juice with extra fibre; and the new low acid orange juice with 30% less acidity than standard.
Tropicana has new competition in the UK from Coca-Cola’s Minute Maid brand.

The range of not-from-concentrate 100% pure squeezed juices includes smooth orange and orange with juicy bits, both of which come with multivitamins, and raspberry with added zinc. Minute Maid also has a Froot Refresh range which comes in 330ml PET bottles.

These drinks are a blend of juice and water and varieties include apple with a splash of mango with multivitamins, orange with a squeeze of passionfruit with calcium, and red grape with a dash of raspberry with zinc.

Norman Brodie, marketing director at Coca-Cola Enterprises, says 66% of women and 41% of men claim they can’t find healthy products often enough when they are out and about.