Negative publicity for bottled water in the US and Europe failed to stem growth in the sector around the world last year, according to recent research.

The 2008 Global Bottled Water report, produced by drinks consultancy Zenith International, has estimated this week that global consumption of bottled water consumption in 2007 rose by 6% on 2006, coming in at 206bn litres. Growing demand for pure water in emerging markets outweighed the impact of poor summer weather in the most developed market of West Europe, the report noted.

Asia/Australasia reinforced its position as the largest regional market with a 26.5% share, achieving a 10% increase on 2006 volumes. Africa and East Europe, meanwhile, also recorded gains of 14% and 10% respectively, although these two regions hold the smallest overall shares.

Volumes climbed in all other regions except West Europe, which dipped by 0.2%.

"Media debate about the environmental impact of bottled water will have had some impact in the US and West Europe, but last year's wet summer was of greater consequence in West Europe," said Zenith's market intelligence director, Gary Roethenbaugh.  "The resilience of the global bottled water market shows that consumers continue to believe in the benefits of its purity and convenience."

The report also found that per capita consumption around the world in 2007 rose by 1.4 litres on a year earlier, to 30.8 litres.

The world's top four bottled water companies - Nestlé, Danone, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo - maintained their 2006 combined volume share of 33% in 2007. The top five global brands in volume terms were Aqua from Danone, Pure Life from Nestlé, Aquafina from PepsiCo, Electropura also from PepsiCo and Poland Spring from Nestlé Waters North America.

Looking forward, Zenith has predicted that bottled water consumption will rise a further 32% to 272bn litres in 2012.