EUROPE: Mixed Growth For Private Label Soft Drinks – Canadean

Private Label soft drinks have faced turbulent times in recent years, with periods of economic uncertainty boosting consumption, and periods of prosperity seeing volumes fall, according to consumer insight firm Canadean.

The company’s latest Q2 beverage trackers for East Europe and West Europe state that Private Label soft drinks continued to perform well in East Europe, and returned to growth in West Europe after two years of decline, although continuing to underperform versus branded products.

Emma Wright, Analyst for Canadean, explains: “The return to growth of the Private Label segment in West Europe can be partly attributed to more retailers introducing premium quality and value-added own-label lines that are lower in cost than branded products, but can rival their quality and, in many cases, packaging design. However, the slowing growth rates registered in East Europe Private Label soft drinks are the result of more consumers seeing a rise in disposable incomes, along with more branded items being sold at a discounted price.”

In West Europe, iced/ready-to-drink coffee was the fastest growing category (+8%), as Private Label outperformed the market in countries such as Austria, where further gains were made in the discount channel. In East Europe, enhanced water recorded the strongest growth at 23%, with consumers attracted by its affordability over branded products.

Among the major categories, packaged water grew across both regions, while carbonates in West Europe were down due to the overall decline in consumption and aggressive price promotions for many key brands.  However, sales of carbonates were up 2% in East Europe, partly due to (low-end) branded drinks being often three to four times cheaper Private Label counterparts.

Across both East and West Europe, in addition to the frequency of branded price promotions, Private Label soft drinks came under increasing pressure from the discounters’ strategy of listing growing numbers of branded products. This is expected to curb Private Label growth in 2016 overall, but in major own-label markets such as Germany and the UK, Canadean expects retailers’ premium Private Label lines to significantly outperform lower-end offerings.