LONDON: Coca-Cola has become the first grocery brand to post more than £1 billion ($1.5bn; €1.1bn) in annual sales in the UK.

The Grocer magazine, the industry title, recently released its latest yearly rankings of the 100 biggest-selling products in the European nation.

It reported that the collective revenues generated by Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero climbed by £47.6 million in 2009, to £1.01bn, despite the challenges of the economic downturn.

"Coca-Cola's success is a testament to the power of branding and marketing management," said Adam Leyland, editor of The Grocer.

"Amid all the talk of retro brands, no-one talks about Coca-Cola. But a retro brand implies it went out of fashion, while Coca-Cola is somehow timeless."

Sanjay Guha, president of Coca-Cola Great Britain and Ireland, attributed this result to the brand's values and overarching communications strategy, which has focused on positivity during the recession.

"These figures show that when times are tough, quality and trust matter even more to consumers – and how our optimistic Open Happiness campaign has struck a chord in tough times," he said.

"Coca-Cola has a long history. It has taught us that recessions, no matter how deep, do pass and it is crucial to keep investing both in marketing and to prepare for the recovery."

Warbuton's, the bread specialist, was in second place on The Grocer's list, on £706.1m, with Walkers crisps taking third, on £511.2m.

Hovis, a competitor to Warbuton's, registered the most substantial uptick in sales in 2008, improving by £53.8m year-on-year, to £458.7m overall.

Glade air freshener, Quavers crisps, Heinz pasta, Philadelphia cream cheese, Clover butter and Twinings tea were some of the brands that entered the Top 100 having enjoyed a successful 2009.

"'Golden oldies' such as Coca-Cola, Hovis, Heinz soup, John West, Rowntree's and even Twinings have skilfully exploited their familiarity in these uncertain times while new acts go undiscovered," said Leyland.

By contrast, Tropicana, the orange juice owned by PepsiCo, experienced the largest contraction, off by £19m compared with 2008, to £269.4m.

Elsewhere, Aero chocolate, Yeo Valley Organic yoghurt, Cadbury's biscuits and Bernard Matthews cooked meat were among the offerings that fell out of the magazine's rankings.

Data sourced from Kimberly Clark; additional content by Warc staff