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The Take Home Trade Market Report 2002
Key Note Publications Ltd, January 2002
In 2001, UK consumers spent £35.05bn on alcoholic drinks and a further £7.55bn on soft drinks, which together represented around 6% of total consumer expenditure.
Within the total of £42.6bn spent on drinks, £16.6bn fell into the category of take-home drinks, or the `off-trade', so that catering and the `on-trade', such as pubs, still accounted for a much higher share of spending on drinks than the take-home market.
Wine is the most important alcoholic drink sold to take home, while beer is more dominant in the on-trade, and in the drinks market as a whole. Wine has driven take-home growth, as Continental eating and drinking habits have been adopted by UK consumers. However, beer and spirits are also important, and there are substantial take-home markets for cider and the currently fashionable category of flavoured alcoholic beverages (FABs), such as Bacardi Breezer. Soft drinks make up another substantial category, there being an ever-broadening range of flavours and styles of packaged drink on the shelves, many of which are targeted at adults rather than children.
The growth of wine has coincided with the rise of the multiple grocer's superstore as the consumer's first choice for buying alcoholic drink for taking home. Grocers as a whole, including local corner shops, now account for more than three-quarters of the take-home trade, having stolen share from traditional off-licences. In total, however, there are still 40,000 outlets selling drinks to take home.
The pressure on off-licences brought by the expansion of grocers such as Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda has made their survival difficult and consolidation into larger groups a necessity. First Quench, which is easily the largest off-licence group (including Thresher and Victoria Wine), was sold to a bank in 2000, while Oddbins, famous for its adventurous and informal wine retailing, became part of a French group in 2002.
Competition between grocers and off-licences means that prices for take-home drinks have remained low and, in some cases, have `deflated' over the 5 years since 1997. Nevertheless, market growth of 25% has been achieved at current prices, and further expansion is forecast to 2006.
Grocers will continue to increase their influence on take-home drinks, but the most striking characteristic of the market in the early years of the 21st century will be the increasing concentration of market share among the few leading brands in each category of drink, usually international brands such as Bacardi, Coca-Cola, Stella Artois, Smirnoff and Gallo.