Guest column: Challenging times for soft drinks
Boost Drinks’s Simon Gray: “Remain agile to adapt to ever-changing challenges in the sector”
It’s safe to say that 2018 was one of the most interesting years in our industry. There were lots of challenges but also plenty of opportunities and I don’t think any of us could have predicted what a year it would be.
The introduction of the sugar tax was quite possibly the biggest challenge the UK’s drinks sector has ever faced. The industry faced the conflict between addressing the importance of reducing sugar levels to offer healthier alternatives, while making sure that these changes had as little impact as possible on their price and taste.
In the face of these sector challenges, agility is key. As we saw the possibility of sugar tax looming on the UK, Boost took the decision to reformulate all of our drinks and introduce a new, lower-sugar recipe ahead of the introduction of the levy. By doing this, we were able to keep the price and pack size the same so that retailers and consumers could enjoy the same great quality for the same low price.
We’re now looking ahead, trying to anticipate the next challenges to rock the sector so we’re ready for them and can help our customers navigate through these.
One of the most discussed debates is the potential ban of the sale of energy drinks to children. While some retailers welcome the idea of this legislation and have imposed their own bans, there is much confusion as to whether children’s consumption habits differ for energy drinks than for other caffeinated drinks.
As the sector eagerly awaits the decision, one of the key things we can do to stay ahead is to prepare for either outcome.
Our approach has been to ensure that our products include clear guidance on the importance of consuming energy drinks in moderation as well as working with independent retailers to help them understand how they can communicate and offer advice to their customers.
A new year always brings a time for reflecting on past successes and challenges, while looking ahead to what the coming months will offer among a year of significant change for the UK. But whatever it is, at Boost we are truly excited for what 2019 will bring.
Because with an agile mindset, having one eye on what is heading in our direction and responding to challenges before they become problems, we’re confident that 2019 will be our best year yet and hope yours is too.
SIMON’S CHECKLIST FOR SUCCESS
✓ Remain agile to adapt to ever-changing challenges in the sector
✓ Keep an eye on future trends so you’re ready for new legislation, e.g. reformulating drinks ahead of last year’s sugar tax
✓ Educate retailers and their customers on responsible consumption of energy drinks