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Vaping grows fastest among UK groceries in 2023

LONDON: Vaping products were the fastest growing category in UK grocery for the second year running in 2023, while sales of cigarettes, cigars and loose tobacco fell sharply, industry data showed.

Britain’s government in October proposed banning younger generations from ever buying cigarettes and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said it also needed to act on youth vaping.

And on Thursday (Dec 14) the World Health Organization (WHO) urged governments to treat e-cigarettes in a similar way to tobacco and ban all flavours, threatening the bets tobacco companies have made on smoking alternatives.

Vaping products saw growth in value sales in Britain of 897.4 million pounds (US$1.15 billion) in 2023, according to the data published on Saturday by market researcher NIQ and The Grocer.

The Lost Mary brand, owned by Chinese vaping firm Heaven Gifts, was the UK’s fastest growing product with sales up by 310.6 million pounds on the previous year, the data showed.

NIQ said vaping products also saw growth on a volume basis, or the amount people bought, while sales of cigarettes and cigars and loose tobacco were down 849.1 million pounds and 393.1 million pounds respectively on a sales value basis.

Another growth area was in sales of sport and energy drinks, which rose 390.1 million pounds, boosted by the viral success of Prime Hydration, the brand fronted by YouTubers KSI and Logan Paul and distributed by Congo Brands.

Some of the fastest growing grocery categories in 2023 were as a result of inflation, NIQ said, with value sales of milk, cheese, fresh meat and poultry increasing significantly but masking volume declines.

It said sales of bagged snacks, chocolate and sweet biscuits also declined on a volume basis.

Meat-free products were in marked decline, down 34.8 million pounds on a value basis and also down on a volume basis.

NIQ also noted that own label sales increased 12.8 per cent as shoppers sought value by trading down from branded items, which are generally more expensive.


Commentary: UK plan to encourage smokers to take up vaping means swapping one health risk with another
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