UNESDA, represents the European soft drinks industry which comprises: still drinks, cordials, dilutables, carbonates, fruit drinks, energy drinks, iced teas and coffees, squashes, flavoured waters and sports drinks. UNESDA does not represent fruit juice or natural mineral and spring water. The soft drinks industry is highly innovative with some 40% of the products on sale today having been introduced in the past five years.
Soft drinks are available in a wide variety of flavours. They are also offered in a range of packaging sizes and formats to suit every drinking occasion. This includes glass bottles, PET bottles, cans, cartons and pouches. Pack sizes range from single serve portions of 150ml, 200ml, 250ml and 330ml to larger pack sizes designed for sharing. No- and low-sugar versions are widely available with all of the major brands offering a no- or low-calorie version.
Flavours are present in virtually every soft drink. They may be obtained from natural or artificial sources and are used to respond to increasing consumer demands for a wide spectrum of different tasting foods and drinks. Natural flavours are derived from a wide range of fruits, vegetables, nuts, bark, leaves, herbs, spices and oils. Artificial flavours are manufactured synthetically.
Soft drinks are packaged in a number of different materials, packaging formats and sizes. They are available in both glass and PET bottles, in cans – both steel and aluminium, in cartons and in pouches. In bars and restaurants – the on-trade – soft drinks are also served from a syphon mixer.
Consumers can choose between either a no-calorie or low-calorie soft drink, or a regular soft drink. No-calorie drinks – typically called light, max, diet or zero – contain no sugar and no calories at all.
Low-calorie drinks contain between 4 and 20 calories per 100ml. A regular soft drink contains around 20-40 calories per 100ml. No- and low-calorie versions now represent 24% of sales in Europe – and over 40% in some markets.
Soft drinks can be part of a healthy and balanced diet
They are an important aid to hydration. Keeping the body well hydrated is important in ensuring optimum mental and physical functioning in humans. It is recommended that we consume 2-2.5 litres of fluid each day, comprising both drinks and foods such as fruit and vegetables.
Studies demonstrate the efficacy of no-calorie soft drinks in achieving weight loss as part of a calorie controlled diet.
Soft drinks typically contain a wide range of ingredients. By far the largest component of all soft drinks is water. They often contain some fruit or flavouring, together with a sweetener – in the form of either sugar or a low-calorie sweetener, and possibly a colour.
Ingredients are sourced from right across Europe. Citrus fruits from around the Mediterranean, soft fruits and berries from many markets and sugar beet from northern European countries. The most frequently used ingredients in soft drinks include the following: