Concerns over rising rates of obesity, diabetes and other chronic illnesses, which are increasingly linked to high consumption of sugary drinks and foods, continue to shape consumer decisions in Canada, leading many to shy away from soft drinks industry and opt for healthier alternatives, such as water, coffee and tea.
According to a recently published report, 'Soft Drinks in Canada,' nearly one-third of Canadian children between the ages of five and seventeen are considered to be overweight or obese, meaning parents have become more cautious about beverage choices for their children and their family as a whole. Categories, such as carbonates, sports drinks and even fruit and vegetable juice, continue to face significant pressure, with a growing number of consumers and health officials calling for bolder actions to address these health concerns.
In response to growing pressure from the public, media and health professionals, the Canadian soft drinks industry has taken a number of measures to address the obesity crisis. Among them is the new ―Clear on Calories‖ initiative, a voluntary, national industry initiative that began in mid-2011 to put calorie information on the front of beverage packaging.
The initiative gained significant support from the Canadian public and helped the industry gradually boost its image. The initiative makes the drinking choices much easier for consumers as they know how much calories they are consuming per serving (591ml) and, thus, can make informed decisions.
Grocery retailers remained the leading retail channel for soft drinks in 2012. Supermarkets and hypermarkets continued to dominate retail sales, thanks to their wider selection of products, effective merchandising and aggressive price activities.
With the exception of a few categories, such as 100% juice and energy drinks, overall growth in sales of soft drinks are expected to remain relatively flat over the coming years. Despite attempts to boost the nutritional profile by expanding low-calorie/sugar varieties and adding natural sweeteners, the overall perception of soft drinks in Canada remains less than positive as consumers increasingly question the safety and quality of soft drinks and the impact on their health.
The influence of the health and wellness trend will continue to dampen overall consumption and demand for soft drinks in Canada. However, in response to growing public pressure, the soft drinks industry has begun to respond and reaffirm its commitment to healthy lifestyles through product development, marketing as well as nationwide initiatives.
For more information on the Canadian soft drinks market, see the latest research: Soft Drinks Market Research
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