The UK soft drink category registered a slight rise in 2006, according to a new report.

The Britvic Soft Drinks Report 2007, issued by the UK-based company today (7 March), indicated that the market for soft drinks in the country increased last year by 7%, reaching sales of GBP8.3bn (US$16.02bn). The rise represents the highest growth level in six years, excepting 2003 when unseasonably hot weather made its presence felt.

Annual per capita consumption in the country was also up, by 4% to 251 litres, a 22% climb from 2001.

"The past five years have been an immensely significant time for the soft drinks category and 2006 was no exception," said Andrew Richards, sales director at Britvic. "The escalating trend towards health and well-being and the introduction of new legislation continued to shape the category.

"However despite these rapidly changing conditions, the industry grew by 7%. This exceptional performance is testament to manufacturers' innovation and understanding of changing consumer needs."

Across all channels cola, pure juice, water and juice drinks led the market in value and volume. A continued growth in stills versus carbonates and no-added-sugar/diet variants confirmed the better-for-you trend continues to influence the industry.

The bottled water category, however, accounted for only 20% of soft drink sales, in contrast to all other European countries where volume is over 50%.