Chile's sales of soft drinks, juice and bottled water dropped 2.8% during the third quarter of this year, according to a mid-October announcement by the National Drink Association (Anber).

Anber President Renato Ramirez said the sales drop was mostly due to a severe consumption decrease in September.

The quarter's drop meant the sales growth for the year to September is zero. The 1.1 billion litres that the industry sold during this period was the lowest sales volume since 1998. The industry's performance was a sharp contrast to the same period of 2000 when sales grew 4.6%.

Third quarter performance was also a turn around from the 3.2% sales growth during the second quarter of this year. First quarter sales dropped 0.2 percent.

Juice sales performed worse during the first three quarters of the year, dropping 6.5%. Juice producers sold 60m litres during the period, compared to 64m during the same period of last year.

Ramirez said juice's decrease was heaviest because it is the most expensive category.
Bottled water sales grew 0.8% during the year to September, compared to 13.5% during the same period last year.

Ramirez said that Anber expects 3% growth in drink sales in the last quarter, bringing the year's growth to 1 or 2%.