Sales of soft drinks in pubs are now growing faster than alcoholic beverages and will increase still further once the country's smoking bans in force, a report has claimed.
Soft drink sales rose 5% last year to £2.4b, compared with alcoholic beverages, which grew 2%, the Britvic Soft Drinks Report said.
While colas and lemonades were still the biggest seller, growth is being driven by sales of juices, squash and bottled water.
Andrew Richards, sales director at Britvic, said this trend would become more pronounced once the England, Wales and Northern Ireland smoking bans had come into play.
"With soft drinks growing faster than total alcoholic beverages, it is clear this category is growing in importance in the pub environment," he said.
"As the smoking ban comes into force this year, soft drinks will become a more important part of the on-premise trade as licensees cater for new customers and a likely increase in the demand for food," he added.
The growth in bottled water and fruit juices was, in part, down to growing concerns about health, although continuing demand for colas and premium packaged soft drinks also pointed to people wanting something indulgent when they went to a pub, bar or restaurant.
By Nic Paton
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