Mexico's Supreme Court has ordered a local soft drink company to give up land it has occupied for decades, dealing a blow to bottlers facing intense international competition.

Representatives of the Pascual bottlers - who produce classic Mexican fruit-flavoured and fruit-based soft drinks - said the ruling would further hurt their ability to survive.

They already have seen their market share slide in recent years due to what they call unfair competition from multinational soft drink producers.

At issue was a 2003 expropriation of the land occupied by the Pascual plants from the widow of the company's previous owner. Mexico City took the land in order to allow Pascual to continue using it, arguing that the cooperative benefited society.

The question in the Supreme Court case was whether the existence of such traditional bottlers represented a public interest for Mexicans, generations of whom have grown up drinking the mango, tamarind and guayaba-flavoured Pascual drinks.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Pascual bottlers did not represent a compelling public interest, and ordered the land returned to its original owner.