Big softies!

With get-togethers soon in full swing in the countdown to Christmas, ensuring you have shoppers’ favourite soft drinks in a full range of flavours and formats will be vital to fully capitalise on the Christmas sales opportunity


Brand Central

6 December 2023

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The season of get-togethers is upon us! For visitors of all ages, your shoppers will want to ensure they have a selection of soft drinks on hand to suit all tastes. Not just for the kids amongst their friends and family, but for adults who want to abstain from alcohol for a host of reasons; obviously including those who are driving to visit loved ones. Particularly for those with long drives ahead of them this Christmas to catch up with all their nearest and dearest, energy drinks will also be a popular choice.

According to Euromonitor, in a report entitled ‘Soft drinks in 2022: The big picture’, soft drinks in Ireland were expected to maintain positive off-trade volume growth in 2022. Sustainability continues to be a key feature of the soft drinks industry, with manufacturers striving to reduce their environmental impact through a range of initiatives.

Ireland’s new national Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), which will be implemented next year, was established to help Ireland achieve EU recycling targets for the estimated 2 billion drinks bottles and cans that are consumed here each year.

The Deposit Return Scheme hopes to achieve higher drink container collection rates and contribute to the ongoing fight against single-use plastics. More than 40 countries and regions have successfully introduced this type of scheme, with recycling rates exceeding 90% in many countries. According to the EU’s Directive on single-use plastics, Ireland must ensure a collection of 77% of plastic beverage bottles placed on the market by 2025, rising to 90% in 2029.

“Interestingly, given the move to smaller, on-the-go formats, arising from increased mobility in Ireland, some retailers have [benefited] more than others in 2022,” Euromonitor has also reported. “For example, given more impulse purchases, smaller, local retailers, such as convenience stores and small local grocers, [were] expected to continue to enjoy higher distribution volume shares than in 2019.”

In the off-trade channel, Euromonitor reported that nearly all soft drinks categories are expected to continue to see volume and current value growth at the top level in the forecast five-year period. 

Meanwhile, in a report entitled ‘Ireland Carbonated Soft Drinks Market Report 2021’ Mintel highlights that health continues to be an important focus of the carbonated drinks market, with over half of carbonated drinks users stating they were more likely to avoid sugary drinks in 2021 compared to 2020, while actively avoiding drinks subject to sugar levies.

Mintel reports that this trend will see continued innovation within the category to reduce sugar but is likely to also drive a trend for added functionality – with Covid-19 having helped to push more consumers to seek drinks that can help boost their immunity or general health. Furthermore, this will push manufacturers to create drinks with added value to inject higher spend back into the category following the trend towards own-label and bulk buying that occurred as a result of lockdown, Mintel stated. 

Find your inner Santa!

 For Christmas 2023, Coca-Cola will ignite the world with Christmas Spirit and invite people to bring more joy and kindness to the world. 

Famously, Coca-Cola is the brand that helped create Santa, and this year Coca-Cola plans to expand its meaning to remind everyone of the real magic of Christmas. The Coca-Cola Santa will return to help people discover their inner Santa and remind us that kindness and generosity rules. The world needs more Santas!

The Coca-Cola Christmas campaign will show consumers, that whoever you are, if you have kindness inside you, then you have the spirit of Santa and a part to play in the real magic of Christmas!

This Christmas, Coca-Cola is offering the chance to win prizes to bring real magic to Coca-Cola drinking moments. Through an exciting on-pack pincode promotion, consumers will have chances to win one of six trips to Lapland, plus thousands of great prizes including Coca-Cola merchandise and digital vouchers.

This multi-faceted campaign is now live in-trade since 6 November through to the end of December 2023 and come to life through multiple touchpoints which include TV, video on demand, cinema, radio, out of home, experiential, PR, in-store theatre, and POS support.

Stock up on the festive promotional packs to offer your customers a chance to win.

Coca-Cola concludes that it can’t wait to start celebrating the festive period and bringing out the inner Santa in all of us this Christmas!

New €20 million Monster canning line opened at Coca-Cola HBC’s production facility

Pictured at the launch of Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland’s new Monster Energy canning line is World Superbike Champion, Jonathan Rea, a Monster sponsored athlete

Last month, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland alongside its partner Monster Energy officially opened a new £17 / €20 million canning line at its production facility in Knockmore Hill, Lisburn.

World Superbike Champion, Jonathan Rea, who is a Monster sponsored athlete, was onsite at Knockmore Hill to officially cut the ribbon and celebrate the achievement with employees.

The new €20 million canning line represents the single largest investment since the production facility opened in 2008, with 35 new permanent roles created as part of the expansion. The extension adds an additional 4,597 square metres to the facility, covering manufacturing, warehousing and logistics.

The expansion comes after a competitive tender process where Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland was selected as the strongest location amongst a number of other bottling operators across Europe.

“The official opening ceremony signals an exciting moment for our business and our partner Monster Energy,” said Davide Franzetti, general manager, Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland.

“The expansion is also a further demonstration of the commitment of Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland to the local economy with 35 new roles created and opportunity for our own people to grow and develop their own skillset with this new state-of-the-art new canning line,” Franzetti added.

Desmond White, chief commercial officer, Monster Energy EMEA, said the new canning line “will unlock new opportunities for us in the Ireland and Northern Ireland markets, and also across other European markets”.

“We are very proud of the strategic partnership with Coca-Cola HBC, the success and growth of our brands Monser and BPM, and the increased employment and employee development opportunities this investment brings. Today signifies a new milestone in our partnership which we are sure will bring further success,” White added.

With a heritage on the island of Ireland dating back to 1938, Coca-Cola HBC employs over 750 people across the island with 450 colleagues based at the Knockmore Hill site in Lisburn.

Since 2008, over €145 million has been invested in the facility in Knockmore Hill, a significant proportion of which is dedicated to furthering Coca-Cola HBC’s goal of achieving a NetZero carbon position by 2040.

The new canning line is part of the wider expansion of Monster Energy on the island of Ireland, with its syrup production facility in Athy, Co. Kildare also in the process of expansion.

Monster results!

Monster Energy remains Ireland’s number one stimulant energy brand this year, driven by strong volume sales which have contributed to category growth of more than 37%* in value and more than 45%* in volume year-to-date (YTD). 

Monster Ultra White retains its number one position in 2023 as the bestselling Monster flavour and bestselling zero sugar energy drink*. Thanks to new product innovation, the Zero Sugar segment has been enriched with the introduction of Lewis Hamilton Zero Sugar and Ultra Rosa this year. 

Monster is set to continue its growth within the zero sugar segment with the launch of Monster Zero Sugar – a zero sugar option of the flagship original Monster, and a new Ultra flavour Peachy Keen. The expanding Zero Sugar segment now includes Ultra White, Ultra Rosa, Ultra Paradise, Ultra Gold, Ultra Fiesta Mango, Ultra Watermelon, Ultra Blue, Ultra Red, Ultra Peachy Keen as well as Lewis Hamilton Zero Sugar and now Green Zero Sugar.

The brand’s Full Flavour range has also seen a new addition with the introduction of Aussie Lemonade and will be continuing its expansion at the end of 2023 with the launch of Reserve Pineapple. The full flavoured segment now includes Mango Loco, Pipeline Punch, Monarch, Khaotic, Aussie Lemonade, Pacific Punch, Mixxd Punch, The Doctor and now Reserve Pineapple.

Grab Christmas by the baubles!

Ireland’s number one energy brand* is ready to refresh the nation in the run up to and across Christmas. The brand has a very significant investment on social throughout the Christmas break, including TikTok, Snapchat and Meta platforms.

The campaign, ‘Grab Christmas By The Baubles’ is a contextual campaign that will resonate with consumers and keep them refreshed and revitalised as they navigate the fun, trials and tribulations of the coming Christmas period.  

Research shows Lucozade is Ireland’s number two FMCG brand** which is a testament to the high level of brand investment ensuring Lucozade Energy is ‘Always On’ in high-reach media across the year.

A Fhirst for life

Next gen soda, Fhirst, has announced its launch into the Irish market, with listings confirmed in independent health stores across the country including Here’s Health, Health Matters, Horans, Nourish, and via WHSmith Travel in Dublin, Shannon and Cork airports.

Each can in the innovative new Fhirst range is packed with 2 billion living probiotic cultures, microencapsulated for stability and allowing for controlled release in the gut

A ‘Fhirst’ of its kind, the up-and-coming soda brand is set to revolutionise functional beverages and beyond with its range of all-natural, zero-sugar or sweetener living sodas, which contain probiotics and prebiotics, plus added zinc.

The brand is on a mission to deliver great-tasting, guilt free sodas that promote gut, immune and brain health. Each can is packed with 2 billion living probiotic cultures, microencapsulated* for stability and allowing for controlled release in the gut, and also contains 5g prebiotic plant fibre and added zinc. Not only that, Fhirst has zero sugar, artificial ingredients or sweeteners.

The three-strong launch line-up comprises three delicious flavours – Cherry VanillaGinger Mandarin and Passion Fruit with a RRP of €2.49 per 330ml can. Featuring distinctive, contemporary packaging, Fhirst’s unique proposition is aimed at health aware consumers, who have a Fhirst for life and are seeking the very best in healthy, functional beverages.

Fhirst’s three-strong launch line-up comprises three flavours – Cherry Vanilla, Ginger Mandarin and Passion Fruit

Why is Fhirst different to other ‘gut healthy’ drinks? To date, gut loving drinks have mainly been made up of fermented drinks (such as kombuchas, kefirs and cider vinegar) and functional sodas (typically prebiotic sodas). Fhirst combines the best of both worlds, offering above and beyond when it comes to both health credentials and taste experience.

No other brand has been able to create a shelf-stable soda capable of containing both probiotics and prebiotics, as well as having zero sugar or sweeteners. Fhirst’s extensive microbiological testing has shown that the gut health benefits in each can are as strong at the end of the products’ shelf life as on day one**, and that’s whether they’re kept chilled or ambient.

Fhirst’s sweetness comes from an infusion of natural stevia leaves, not to be confused with the chemical sweetener ‘stevia’ (stevia extract or steviolglycoside) which is physically and chemically altered and processed. Aside from water and stevia leaves, no further extraction with ethanol, methanol or the like takes place, nor are any other substances ‘used to process’ the product. The infusion gives Fhirst a natural sweet ‘kiss’.

Fhirst founder, Steven Van Middelem (also founder of D-Drinks), has both worked in the beverage industry for over 20 years, and has a passion for making best-in-class, healthier beverages with a sustainable impact: “The global pandemic encouraged us all to think again about our health and immunity. 80% of our immune system lies in our gut, and gut health has been linked to the health of many other organs, including the heart and the brain.

“We wanted to create a drink to help support immunity, brain health and overall gut health without compromising on taste, and most importantly without the sugars or sweeteners. It’s soda with benefits. We’re on a mission to help people make healthier choices, and we’re beyond excited to be bringing next gen soda to Irish consumers,” he added.

As well as helping educate on the importance of gut health and evolve our drinking habits, Fhirst is committed to investing in nature’s biodiversity in the shape of Planet Fhirst, pledging 1% of turnover to biodiversity and green infrastructure projects via a partnership with SUGi. Fhirst funds will be used to boost the powerful web of 100% biodiverse native forests.

For more information, follow Fhirst @drinkfhirst.

Wiiings for every taste!

Promising to vitalise body and mind, Red Bull Energy Drink, alongside its expanding range of editions will make for the ultimate Christmas 2023 party companion, with wiiings for every taste. 

Red Bull Sugar Free serves the no sugar category trend, while the colourful editions including Tropical, Red (Watermelon), Green (Cactus Fruit), Apricot and Juneberry provide wiiings for every taste. Red Bull Energy Drink, and now the Tropical and Watermelon editions, are also available in super convenient four packs, perfect for Christmas get togethers.

Available in over 170 countries worldwide, more than 11.5 billion cans of Red Bull were consumed last year

Available in over 170 countries worldwide, with more than 11.5 billion cans of Red Bull consumed last year, its expanding range of editions and beyond the ordinary marketing strategy see Red Bull continue to win its way into Irish consumers hearts, minds and shopping baskets this Christmas. 

Founded in 1987, Red Bull established the energy drinks product category, promising to vitalise body and mind. It is appreciated worldwide by top athletes, students and in highly demanding professions, as well as during long drives.  

Giving wiiings to people and ideas, Red Bull is proud to champion Irish sport, supporting Irish athletes in rugby player Mack Hansen, hockey goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran, surfer Conor Maguire, downhill mountain bike athlete Greg Callaghan and drifter Conor Shanahan. 

Visit for more inspiring content and follow @RedBullIre on Instagram and TikTok to stay up to date with the latest action and events.

Sales of cold coffees up by 11% this year: Bewley’s

Ireland is fast becoming a nation of year-round chilled coffee lovers, with under-35s turning to cold caffeine drinks flavoured with syrups and topped with foamed non-dairy milk in all weathers, according to Bewley’s sales data.

Head of Coffee Culture at beverage firm Bewley’s, Julie Murray, with a flavoured chilled espresso topped with foamed cold milk. According to the latest figures, sales of similar drinks have risen by 11% this year. (Pic credit: Leon Farrell, Photocall Ireland)

Caffeine drinks elevated with flavours like wild strawberry, passion fruit, and salted caramel are becoming increasingly popular – with sales of cold coffees rising by 11% this year. 

Bewley’s reports it has witnessed a sharp increase in sales of its chilled coffees to customers over the past six months. These include coffees infused with nitrogen known as nitro brews, iced lattes, as well cold foamy milk drinks. 

“The sales of chilled flavoured coffees and espresso martinis outnumbered the amount of hot coffees we sold by almost 1,500 cups at Electric Picnic and Kaleidoscope,” says Julie Murray, head of Coffee Culture at Bewley’s.

“Menus in speciality coffee shops were once gloriously simple and consisted of three main items – espresso, espresso with milk, and filter coffee. This was a situation the shop owners loved because it was easy to manage, with simple price points and choice. 

“The new cohort of coffee drinkers are looking for a lot more variety and specialty coffee shops are selling iced lattes flavoured with syrups in response,” she adds. 

Meanwhile, Monin’s Europe-wide Winter Drinks Trends report 2022/23 also reveals that 7.3% of under 35s will drink at least one iced coffee away from home each day. 

In response to the increased demand, Murray says Bewley’s is now selling automated milk frothing machines to the hospitality sector in Ireland. The Latte Art Factory automated milk frother sits alongside the barista’s espresso machine and grinder and can even pump nitro coffees straight into the glass. 

“The Latte Art Factory not only dispenses cold and hot textured milk but also nitro cold brews, says Murray. “It greatly improves efficiency and helps the industry overcome labour challenges.” 




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