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Climate Trends and Impacts on the UK Tonic and Soft Drinks Industry.

The marketplace in which Compass Supply Solutions has been heavily involved in for over 25 years is changing. The Travel Retail sector is under pressure; from within as well as outwardly, to become itself more environmentally friendly. Embracing brands with a forward thinking view on the climate and sustainability is a priority for CSS and in this article, we've taken a look into some of the trends and impacts that face the tonic and soft drinks industry in particular when it comes to producing beverages of the future.



With the arrival of 2024, the UK’s climate landscape is undergoing significant shifts, and these changes ripple through various sectors, including tonics and soft drinks. Key trends shaping this dynamic beverage landscape include:





1. Sustainability and Environmental Consciousness


Organic and Biodynamic Choices

Consumers are increasingly environmentally conscious, and their preferences are starting to reflect this awareness. In the arena of drinks, we witness a surge in demand for organic and biodynamic options. These beverages align with consumers’ values, emphasizing sustainable practices with minimal ecological impact. According to the British Soft Drinks Association Annual Report 2023 Brands that prioritise responsible production methods gain favour among discerning drinkers.*


Locally Sourced and Sustainable Ingredients

In the quest for sustainability, brands are now starting to craft their products using locally sourced and sustainable ingredients. Whether it’s a botanical-infused tonic water or a fruit-based soft drink, the trend is clear: consumers want their libations to reflect ethical and eco-friendly choices.


2. Low and No-Alcohol Products


Health-Conscious Preferences

The UK’s alcoholic drinks market continues to develop and evolve, especially considering the pandemic’s impact. On-Trade sales are gradually starting to recover, however they remain at below pre-pandemic levels. This scenario has sparked increased interest and sales in low and no-alcohol alternatives. Health-conscious consumers seek beverages that allow them to enjoy social occasions without compromising well-being. I suspect 2024 will see more innovative alcohol-free options emerge in the UK.


3. Circular Economy and Packaging Innovations


Reducing Single-Use Plastics

The Travel Retail industry seems to be actively addressing its environmental footprint by adopting circular economy practices, with some Cruise Lines in particular rethinking packaging materials; aiming to reduce single-use plastics. From biodegradable bottles to compostable lids, sustainable packaging solutions gain traction. Expect further innovations as companies strive to minimize waste and promote recycling.


Upcycling and Repurposing

Inventive approaches involve upcycling, transforming waste materials into new products. For example, some products use surplus fruit peels to create natural flavour extracts for tonics. Bartenders are starting to experiment with repurposed herbs and spices to craft unique soft drink blends. These initiatives reduce waste whilst enhancing flavour profiles.


4. Climate-Resilient Ingredients


Adapting to Changing Growing Conditions


Climate change directly has an impact on agriculture, affecting the quality and availability of some ingredients. The drinks industry needs to adapt. For example:


  • Tonic Water: The botanicals used in tonic water face challenges due to changing temperatures and weather patterns. Brands are now exploring resilient botanical varieties that thrive despite fluctuations.

  • Fruit Juices: Fruit availability varies dramatically with climate shifts. Brands look to diversify their sourcing to include fruits resilient to changing conditions. This undoubtedly will result in the emergence of innovative blends that adapt to seasonal variations.


Conclusion

As the UK navigates the climate challenges and complexities, the tonic and soft drinks industry plays a key role in shaping sustainable practices. Drinks that embrace environmental consciousness, prioritise circular economy principles and innovate with climate-resilient ingredients will thrive in this dynamic landscape. Let’s raise a glass to a greener, more responsible future.


References:

*British Soft Drinks Association 2023 Annual Report

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