High – but not on sugar

By: Budai Klára Date: 2024. 05. 03. 11:50

The category of sugar-free soft drinks has been growing steadily for years, driven by the health consciousness trend.

This article is available for reading in Trade magazin 2024/5

Demand for these products kept growing in 2023, from a 35% volume share in 2022 to 41% in 2023. Flavoured and functional mineral waters are becoming increasingly popular, offering a real taste experience with lower or even zero sugar content.

Ildikó Zubály
senior brand manager
Szentkirályi Magyarország

“Another factor contributing to this growth is that manufacturers are trying to promote and expand their sugar-free offerings, encouraging consumers to choose lower-calorie alternatives”,

says Ildikó Zubály, senior brand manager of Szentkirályi Magyarország.

EShe explains that consumers of sugar-free soft drinks can be divided into two groups: those who drink both sugary and sugar-free products and those who consume only sugar-free soft drinks. The second group tends to be more conscious, which may be related to the level of education; they are also less price-sensitive than average.




New product line

Boglárka Bara, senior brand manager of Szentkirályi Magyarország:

Boglárka Bara
senior brand manager

“In 2024 we are launching a real innovation with Szentkirályi mineral water, which focuses on the commitment to a healthy lifestyle. The Szentkirályi One Drop of Fruit range is a lemon or forest fruit flavoured, natural mineral water based drink that contains no sugar or sweeteners, and it represents a new category in the market. From April the 1.5-litre format will become available first. Then in the summer Szentkirályi One Drop of Fruit will also come out in an innovative 0.25-litre can format”.



Last year, roughly two out of five soft drinks purchased were sugar-free

Márton Vecsei, head of soft drink brands at HELL ENERGY Magyarország Kft. says that the sugar-free soft drink market is facing a lot of challenges for manufacturers:

Vecsei Márton SWISS

Márton Vecsei
senior brand manager

“You could say that this market is the biggest challenge, but it also offers the biggest opportunity, because in a saturated market with so many brands competing, we need to have a portfolio that can successfully win consumers over”.


Compromise-free solutions

At HELL ENERGY Magyarország 2023 was the most successful year ever for the XIXO brand: its market share increased by 68% compared to 2022. This growing trend shows similar numbers for sugar-free products. XIXO Cola Zero was able to achieve a 39% rise in unit sales compared to last year, one of the main drivers of which was the national aspartame-free campaign. XIXO Cola Zero, with its meticulously developed flavour and quality ingredients, has become one of the brand’s key products. With its preservative-, sugar- and aspartame-free formula, it offers a no-compromise solution for all cola lovers. This year several new products will be launched.

The category is increasingly characterized by conscious consumers and competition of major brands

Tailored to trends and consumer needs

István Mikos
corporate director

Every year more and more people are eating consciously and the number of consumers trying to cut their carbohydrate intake is growing. Ceres ZRt. has developed its Slimmm and NewLine product ranges for these consumers.

“Those shoppers who choose a special or higher added value category know that the price of these products is higher. Consumers are more informed and therefore their decision criteria are more complex than for other products. Our innovation work is always driven by consumer needs and the latest trends. We are currently developing a product that can be integrated into a health-conscious diet”,

says István Mikos, corporate director of Ceres Zrt.




Not only price is factored in the purchase decision: value for money is also important

Growing free-from portfolio

Maczelka Márk, SPAR

Márk Maczelka
head of communications
SPAR Magyarország

Márk Maczelka, head of communications at SPAR Magyarország Kereskedelmi Kft. informs that they are constantly expanding the selection of free-from and health-conscious products and now offer more than 1,000 of these.

“The proportion of health-conscious consumers is growing worldwide and a similar trend is evident in the domestic market too. Surveys show that 44% of Hungarians follow special diets or consume special foods, 22% prioritise gluten-free, lactose-free or vegan diets, and 22% follow a low-sugar, sugar-free or low-carb diet”,

he adds.

SPAR Lifestyle gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan and organic products are displayed on separate shelves in stores, making it easier for shoppers to find the range.



The main outlets for sugar-free products are modern trade channels

More at lower prices

ALDI’s product selection is 90% private labels and it offers dieters, people with food intolerances and health-conscious shoppers a choice of nearly 500 free-from and health-conscious products. Consumers can easily find their ideal, high quality foods at low prices. In ALDI stores the number of products without added sugar increased by 10% in 2023. The demand for special foods has clearly increased in recent years, with the popularity of free-from products being observed in all categories. The retailer is confident about the positive impact of the lowering inflation on purchases, and has taken and is taking a number of measures to ensure that Hungarian consumers can buy more products at lower prices than before. //

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