Britvic chief executive Paul Moody has urged soft drinks producers to focus on innovation to continue driving growth in the category.

Moody was speaking at the launch of the Britvic Soft Drinks Category Report, which detailed last year's trends in the UK soft drinks industry. According to Britvic, soft drinks sales rose 5% in 2005 to GBP7.8bn (US$13.6bn). The company and rival Coca-Cola Enterprises maintained their strong positions, accounting for over half of sales.

"Despite undergoing significant changes in 2005, the soft drinks industry performed strongly to deliver growth in both the take-home channel and pubs and clubs," Moody said. "Innovation was at the heart of this growth and it will remain vital in expanding the category, as manufacturers continue to embrace evolving consumer trends."

Britvic said take-home sales rose 5% to GBP5.4 billion, with low and no sugar products experiencing the biggest growth in take-home. Sales of diet and no added sugar colas rose 7%, reflecting consumer preference for the lower sugar option, Britvic said.

Pure juice sales grew 7%, while bottled water sales were up 9%. Britvic said that adult soft drinks sales leapt 21%, the second fastest growing sub-category behind dairy drinks. J2O's popularity continued to drive the segment with sales up 68%.

In pubs and clubs, Britvic noted that soft drinks grew faster than both beer and spirits and overtook wine in value. The rise was "driven by increasing consumer demand for premium soft drinks as a credible alternative to alcohol", Britvic said. 

"Soft drinks saw strong growth and are on track to overtake the spirits category in value terms," the company added, noting that spirits sales rose by only 1%.