Irn-Bru sales up 8% as AG Barr posts profits rise

AG Barr has reported the biggest annual rise in Irn-Bru sales ever as customers raced to buy the original formula before its sugar content was reduced last year.

Sales of Irn-Bru were up eight per cent in 2017. Picture: John Devlin

The Cumbernauld-based soft drinks manufacturer posted an eight per cent rise in full-year revenue today, “well ahead” of the market performance.

Revenue rose to £277.7m in 2017, up from £257.1m a year earlier, while pre-tax profit increased by 4.2 per cent to £44.9m.

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Sales of Barr’s flagship Irn-Bru brand - popularly known as Scotland’s other national drink - were up eight per cent.

The firm announced plans to drastically cut the sugar content of Irn-Bru in October last year, allowing it to avoid the UK Government’s new sugar tax which is due to come into force in April.

Instead of using high amounts of sugar, the drink now blends a mix of low-calorie sweeteners including aspartame, already used in thousands of other products.

The move meant Irn-Bru’s sugar content fell from 10.3g per 100ml to just 4.7g, making it officially under the 5g level at which the new sugar tax takes effect.

Despite the change, there are still four teaspoons of sugar in a regular 330ml can of the drink, although this is significantly less than the 8.5 teaspoons found in the old version.

Barr’s began producing soft drinks in Falkirk in 1875. The company now now expects around 99 percent of its portfolio to contain less than five grams of sugar per 100ml, ahead of the implementation of the soft drinks industry levy next month.

“The UK economic landscape is expected to remain uncertain for business as a whole, with regulation, changing customer dynamics and consumer preferences adding further volatility for the soft drinks industry,” CEO Roger White said.