Juice and smoothies enjoyed the fastest-growth among drinks categories in the UK in 2006, according to data from industry analysts ACNielsen.

Sales of juice and smoothies leapt 19% this year thanks largely to this summer's hot weather, ACNielsen said over the weekend. Innocent Drinks, the makers of the eponymous fruit drinks and smoothies, led that growth, seeing sales soar 165% year-on-year in the year so far.

ACNielsen's statistics, which are taken from in-store EpoS data from over 83,000 retailers across the UK, also confirmed that 2006 has been a buoyant year for the cider category.

Cider and perry sales jumped 16%, driven, according to ACNielsen, by the growth of cider brand Magners, which saw take-home sales rise from GBP5m (US$9.7m) to GBP32m in 12 months.

UK drinkers also reached for bottled water and still drinks over the summer. Water sales rose 10%, while still drinks sales were up 8%.

Eleni Nicholas, MD of ACNielsen UK, said: "The summer heat wave has resulted in many drinks manufacturers having a bumper year. Fruit drinks and water have performed particularly well, these having the double whammy of being refreshing and healthy, which is key to today's consumer."