The UK drinks industry is positively bubbling with activity at the moment. Summer drinks generally serve one of two functions – celebrating and refreshing. The celebrating front got a massive boost from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding on Saturday 19 May, with sparkling wine sales enjoying a massive hike thanks to the combination of the wedding, the beautiful weather and, so we are told, an increase in visitor numbers to the UK.

According to IRI figures sparkling wine sales in retail hit £20.7 m during the Wedding Week, 12.5% up over the previous seven days and up 36.6% on the same time last year. Still wine was down 3%, as was beer and cider, as shoppers switched to sparkling for the occasion. Spirits also saw a slight increase of 0.8%, worth £60 million to the supermarkets.

Staying with the sparkle new research conducted by the Prosecco trade body Consorzio Tutela Prosecco DOC reveals that, contrary to general belief, more men in the UK buy Prosecco DOC than women and consumers of Prosecco have an average annual salary of £45k. The UK is the largest export market for Prosecco. The Consorzio was established in 2009, and since then sales have doubled.

Meanwhile in our increasingly health conscious era there’s no escaping the ‘reduce alcohol ‘ gospel. To keep the health risks from alcohol to a low level men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis, equivalent to 6 pints of average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine. It doesn’t sound like much over seven days, but that’s what they’re telling us. And the message is getting through. Research from Mintel published in February 2017 reveals 32% of Brits have reduced or limited their alcohol intake over the past 12 months and 51% of the nation’s beer, wine and cider drinkers saying they are drinking less alcohol than a few years ago. The other side of the Summer Drinks coin is of course soft drinks and waters, which are reaping the benefits of this crusade for healthy living.

In the Government’s ‘Childhood obesity: A plan for action’, published in August 2016, Public Health England committed themselves to overseeing a sugar reduction programme that challenged all sectors of the food and drinks industry to reduce level of sugar by 20% by 2020, and to achieve a 5% reduction in the first year of the programme. PHE’s Year One progress report for its sugar reduction and wider reformulation programme shows that soft drinks is one of the only categories to have achieved the 5% target for year one.

The British Soft Drinks Association’s Director General Gavin Partington says it comes as no surprise to them that sugar intake from soft drinks has decreased by almost five times as much as other categories – down 18.7% since 2013 – a trend which correlates with the industry’s strong track record in sugar reduction before the introduction of the soft drinks levy.

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