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Mark Aherne, General

The energy of change!

Mark Aherne, General Manager, Lucozade Ribena Suntory Ireland, discusses why the company’s brands are so loved by Irish consumers, what the Beam Suntory distribution announcement means for Ireland and how and why the company is leading the way when it comes to sustainability commitments.

THE Lucozade Energy, Lucozade Sport and Ribena brands have been loved by generations of Irish consumers, with memorable advertising campaigns for each forming part of our collective childhoods, so much so that it would be easy for them to slip into the realm of heritage brands.

But the company who owns those much-loved drinks, Lucozade Ribena Suntory Ireland, the local arm of the global Suntory Group, is not about to let that happen. These brands have remained relevant to new generations thanks to a combination of innovative marketing and NPD. The company is also at the forefront of a new generation of multinational corporations who take their environmental responsibilities seriously, unveiling an ambitious sustainability roadmap in September 2019.

The latest news for the company saw Lucozade Ribena Suntory Ireland named as distributor for the Beam Suntory range of premium spirits in Ireland. General Manager Mark Aherhe talks us through these issues and more.

Your soft drinks brands (Lucozade Energy, Lucozade Sport, Ribena) are amongst the most loved in Ireland. What does that mean to the company? Lucozade Sport, Lucozade Energy and Ribena are at the heart of our business

and are loved by consumers throughout Ireland and the world over. Our brands have evolved through more than 90 years of knowledge, insight and expertise, and we’re proud that this insight-based approach to innovation is something that continues to be embraced by shoppers in Ireland.

Lucozade and Ribena’s stories both start with innovators. Scientists with the Yatte Minahare spirit ('dream big, take challenges and never give up'), who had a clear purpose and the nation’s health in their hearts. Each of our founders shared a common spirit. They all wanted to do something totally different, were passionate about sharing their success with society, and each left a lasting legacy.

Our founders’ spirit can be seen

in our people and our culture today at Lucozade Ribena Suntory Ireland (LRSI). As a business, we are lucky to have great people: people who inspire, who go the extra mile, who continually strive to be the best that they can be and who deliver big and small revolutions daily.

It is this mentality that steers us to produce some of the nation’s best-loved drinks. Lucozade Energy and Lucozade Sport continue to drive sales success and have added €7.6m to the market over the past year (Source: Nielsen ROI Total Scantrack, Soft Drinks Impulse Brand Value Sales, MAT w/e Jan 26, 2020). Lucozade Energy, with growth of 17.5%, and Lucozade Sport, with growth of 11.5%, are both ahead of the total soft drinks market (Source: Nielsen ROI Total Scantrack, Soft Drinks Impulse Brand Value % Change, MAT w/e Jan 26, 2020). Ribena is driving category growth by growing 4.7% MAT versus the category at 1.2% (Source: Nielsen ROI Total Scantrack, RTD Ribena Single Value Share & Value % Change, MAT w/e Jan 26, 2020).

How do you ensure that your brands, which have a long heritage here, remain (a) relevant and (b) popular with new generations of Irish consumers? We have a track record of innovation with our well-loved brands that has continued to keep them front of mind. We work closely with our audiences to not only understand what shoppers want, but how to drive sales for our retail partners. Shoppers want excitement when looking for a soft drink. NPD contributed 20% to the growth of Carbs Sports & Energy Category over the past year (Source: Nielsen ROI Total Scantrack, Carbs Sports & Energy Impulse Value Sales, MAT w/e Jan 26, 2020). We invest heavily in innovation and making sure our drinks cater for key trends. This includes delivering high-impact, award-winning marketing campaigns, including strong in-store support packages that drive sales for our retail partners – something we will continue to do to ensure our brands grow in 2020 and beyond. An example of market-leading innovation within the last 12 months is new Lucozade Energy Watermelon & Strawberry Cooler, which has driven success for Irish retailers since its launch.

Marketing support for new products is crucial for driving shopper interest and increasing footfall for stores. We have continued to talk to consumers across the channels that are most important to them, including social media campaigns across Instagram and Lucozade Revive is a new lightly sparkling, naturally flavoured fruit-based drink, available in two flavours – Lemon & Lime and Orange & Passionfruit – in 380ml recyclable bottles and a 4 x 380ml multipack.

Snapchat, which proved to be incredibly successful in support of Lucozade Zero’s sponsorship of First Dates on RTE in 2019.

Both Lucozade Energy and Lucozade Sport have created successful grassroots events across the country, allowing consumers to meet and engage with influencers, including up-and-coming young entrepreneurs.

This continued focus on shopper marketing, including innovation at the point of purchase, will continue as we strive to support our retail partners at every step of the purchase journey.

What plans have you in place for the coming year for your soft drinks brands? We will be following our hugely successful programme of innovation and promotion across the LRSI portfolio in 2019 with another targeted programme of insight-driven product launches and innovative marketing campaigns.

This month will see the launch of a new sub-brand designed to bring a different set of shoppers to the energy category. Lucozade Revive is a delicately sparkling, lightly flavoured, naturally inspired fruit-based drink, available in two flavours: Lemon & Lime and Orange & Passionfruit.

The Lucozade sub-brand, sitting alongside Lucozade Energy & Zero, is aimed at shoppers that don’t buy into the energy category but are looking for a naturally inspired uplift during their day. The launch of Lucozade Revive will be supported by an extensive marketing campaign, including in-store PoS materials such as FSDUs and shelf-

Mark Aherne: “We are looking at how we can work closely with our industry partners and government to develop the infrastructure necessary to drive wide-scale behavioural and societal change.”

edge materials, as well as sampling and targeted out-of-home advertising.

Lucozade Sport will continue to remain the official hydration partner of the IRFU. This long-running partnership will be supported by the continuation of Lucozade Sport’s ‘Made To Move’ campaign across the country.

It was recently announced that you are taking over distribution of Beam Suntory International’s alcohol brands in Ireland. What will this mean for the market here and for the brands themselves? We are delighted to have become the official distributor for Beam Suntory, a world leader in premium spirits, in the Republic of Ireland.

The distribution agreement is the first of its kind between LRSI and Beam Suntory, both subsidiaries of The Suntory Group, one of the world's leading consumer products companies. The strategic partnership will further strengthen and expand the position of Beam Suntory’s premium spirits portfolio in the Irish market.

Ireland is key for both LRSI and Beam Suntory, and we believe it is the perfect environment to roll out this exciting new distribution model. We are currently distributing iconic brands such as Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Courvoisier, Kilbeggan, Teacher’s, Roku Japanese Gin and Sipsmith, and hope to elevate the public’s awareness and familiarity of these brands through activations and marketing campaigns in the coming months.

What is in the pipeline for the premium alcohol brands? We have some very exciting developments in the pipeline and look forward to revealing all to our retail partners in the coming months. As a world leader in premium spirits, Beam Suntory is dedicated to providing consumers with quality craftmanship. Our new drinks in the portfolio will do just that.

Lucozade Ribena Suntory Ireland, through its parent company Suntory Beverage and Food Europe, has been very vocal in its commitment to sustainability. Why is sustainability so important to the company? As part of the Suntory Group, we work towards the group’s global vision of ‘Growing for Good’: doing the right thing by people and the planet as we produce, market and sell our drinks. The sustainability work that we do is anchored by four key pillars: our drinks, our resources, our society and ourselves, that all reinforce the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

We are looking at how we can work closely with our industry partners and government to develop the infrastructure necessary to drive wide-scale behavioural and societal change. For us, this includes making changes to our use of plastic and the technology and natural resources we use.

What steps are you taking on this sustainability journey? The changes and innovations we are making are massive and are set to reduce both our plastic consumption and our carbon emissions.

We are tackling the issue of plastic waste by focusing on using less and better packaging and generating less waste. We are taking action in three areas: making our drinks containers 100% recyclable in order to facilitate bottle-to-bottle recycling; moving towards only using sustainable plastic to make our bottles; and using the power of our brands to reinforce the importance

of recycling in our marketing communications.

In 2019, we set out our vision and made a clear commitment to a sustainable future. Suntory aims to become the first global drinks company to use 100% sustainable plastic bottles, using fully recycled or plant-based materials across its entire portfolio by 2030. By 2025, LRSI will use 50% recycled plastic in all our bottles. The source of the plastic will mainly come from plastic that has been ‘mechanically’ recycled.

By 2030, we aim for the remaining 50% of plastic to be a combination of additional recycled plastic (mechanical), plant-based plastic (biosourced) made from sustainable wood sources, and ‘good as new’ plastic that comes from chemical

Lucozade Ribena Suntory Ireland Ltd is the official distributor for Beam Suntory International in Ireland.

”In 2019, we set out our vision and made a clear commitment to a sustainable future. Suntory aims to become the first global drinks company to use 100% sustainable plastic bottles, using fully recycled or plantbased materials across its entire portfolio by 2030. and enzymatic recycling sources. Both the bio-sourced plastic and the enzymatic recycled plastic use emerging technologies and therefore, will take longer to source.

We are ready and willing to invest the time, resources and money that will be needed to make this vision a reality. Our sustainability commitments also include our ingredients.

We employ a full-time agronomist and partner with the Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group so that each of our growers has a resilient biodiversity plan tailored to the individual habitats found in and around each farm. The comprehensive plans, in place since 2004, have helped us restore 200 miles of rough field margins, build more than 2,000 nest boxes, sow pollen and nectarrich plants, create wetlands, restore ponds, plant woodlands and build bee hotels.

Our environmental focus has extended to a €15.4m (Stg £13m) investment in our factory on our most energy-efficient production line ever. The amount of water and energy required to produce a bottle on the new line will be reduced by 40%. This represents a 4.4% reduction in energy and water consumption for our site.

Is it true you are redesigning your core bottle range to make it more recyclable? We led the industry in creating the soft drinks industry’s first bottle to be made with 100% recycled plastic with Ribena more than 12 years ago, and now we’re undergoing an ambitious redesign to ensure our drinks are suitable for bottleto-bottle recycling.

We’re reducing the size of the fully printed sleeves on our bottles and increasing their transparency to enable automated sorting machines in recycling centres to better identify clear plastic packaging. This ensures that each bottle has an even stronger chance of being recycled back into a new plastic bottle, of course, with the supporting infrastructure needing to be in place. We’re on track for the new Ribena bottles to hit shelves in 2020, with Lucozade Sport and Lucozade Energy following that.

Is enough being done generally in the field of sustainable plastic, such as bio-sourced and recycled plastics, to make sustainable plastics a realistic and affordable option for business without passing on huge price hikes to consumers? The world around us is constantly evolving and we want to be at the forefront of change, working collaboratively and innovatively to help protect the world in which we live. It is a long and expensive journey, but we are ready and willing to invest the time, resources and money that will be needed to make our vision a reality.

LRSI, through Suntory, is part of a consortium with Carbios, a company pioneering new, bio-industrial solutions to reinvent the lifecycle of plastic.

Carbios has developed a unique and sustainable technology that can recycle much broader PET plastic and raw materials than other recycling technologies. This innovative process creates recycled PET, equivalent to virgin PET, that can be used as food-grade plastic – such as our bottles.

Under the terms of the four-year agreement, the Consortium partners’ ambition is to bring Carbios’ PETenhanced recycling technology to the market and increase the availability of high-quality recycled plastics to fulfil our sustainability commitments.

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