Coke tops UK grocery charts

15 March 2011

LONDON: Coca-Cola remains the biggest-selling grocery brand in the UK, according to a new report.

Trade title The Grocer has published its latest annual ranking of the leading products in the country by value sales, based on Nielsen data, and found Coca-Cola became the first member of the list to surpass £1bn  ($1.8bn; €1.3bn) in returns in 2009.

The soft drink also yielded an 8.3% improvement in 2010, as totals reached nearly £1.1bn.

In response to the challenging financial climate, Coca-Cola has adopted a stricter approach, trimming the number of items on store shelves, and zoning in on core priorities.

"You mess with a winning formula at your peril," said Adam Leyland, editor of The Grocer editor.

"And the perilous economy has persuaded many of Britain's biggest brands to play it safe, most notably Coca-Cola, the biggest of them all."

"In the past two years, it has stripped the proposition back to just Coke, Diet Coke and Coke Zero. And to telling effect."

Warbuton's bread held second, logging a 1.5% lift as figures hit £742.4m, and PepsiCo's Walkers crisps secured a 4.2% increase, to £591m.

Hovis, also in the bread category, took fourth but experienced a 6.5% decline, delivering £426.1m, and Cadbury's Dairy Milk expanded 11.8%, to £418.3m.

This latter result came despite considerable controversy surrounding the takeover of Cadbury by Kraft, the American food group.

Kingsmill was the third entrant from the bread sector, with its £389.9m marking a 4.8% jump on the previous 12 months.

Nescafé, the instant coffee owned by Nestlé, saw a 3.5% rise to £384.9m, and Lucozade, GlaxoSmithKline's energy drink, posted a 9.4% leap, coming in at £370.1m.

Demand for Andrex toilet tissue grew by 1%, on £353.7m, but Robinsons soft drinks slipped 2.3%, to £314.8m.

Pepsi's eponymous cola and Tropicana followed in the rankings, generating £308m and £292.2m respectively.

Doritos, falling within Pepsi's Frito-Lay division, enjoyed an impressive annual uptick, growing 20.7% to £123.7m.

"One of the most important 'insights' to emerge in recent times is the 'big night in'," said Leyland. "The most obvious beneficiary has been Doritos."

Heinz had two products in the top 20, as soups racked up £230.3m, augmented by another £228.7m in sales of its Beanz range.

Cadbury's Biscuits, made under licence by Burton's Foods, featured in the 100 best-selling lines for the first time, over 30% higher than the previous year, on £88.2m.

Elsewhere, Mars witnessed an even more difficult trend, as its main chocolate bar was off 14%, receiving £102.1m.

Richard Buchanan, director of brand consultancy The Clearing, argued the chocolate segment's resilience had largely been driven by female shoppers, leaving Mars at a disadvantage.

"Mars is looking a bit past its sell-by date," he said. "Look at its black, red and gold branding - it is the Ford Capri of chocolate bars. It oozes masculinity."

Goodfella's pizza actually dropped out of the top 100, registering a 15.5% decline, to £74.7m.

The Black and White milk range owned by Robert Wiseman dairies also recorded a surge in revenues, climbing 19.1%, to £156.5m.

Data sourced from The Daily Telegraph; additional content by Warc staff