The UK soft drinks market sustained "healthy" growth in 2006, with total volumes up by 3.6%, driven by the health and wellness trend and growth in still drinks categories.

A report from Zenith International, called 2007 UK Soft Drinks report, which was based on research conducted in conjunction with the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA), put total soft drinks volumes for 2006 at 14.35bn litres, representing a retail sales value of GBP12.86bn (US$25.61bn). Per capita annual consumption reached 237 litres.

Despite a relative decline, carbonates continued to hold the leading share, accounting for 41.8% of total 2006 consumption, according to the report, while dilutables in ready-to-drink form were the second largest sector with a 23.4% share. Bottled water was the third largest category with a 15.9% share, with fruit juices and nectars accounting for 11.1%.

"Nature, health and wellbeing are now the key dynamics for consumption growth," said Zenith research director Gary Roethenbaugh. "Smoothies, chilled juice, still juice drinks and bottled water had the greatest momentum in 2006. The industry has placed particular emphasis on water and juice drinks on the go, chilled drink availability and lower to zero calorie carbonates."

Key findings include the rise of smoothies and-not-from concentrate (NFC) juice, up respectively by 58% and 26% in 2006; a "fundamental" shift away from added sugar, from a dominant 72% share 20 years ago to 39% in 2006; further consolidation; and an increase in popularity of functional drinks, notably the appearance of more superfruits and products with added health ingredients.

Zenith expects the trend towards health and wellbeing will continue to drive growth for the UK soft drinks industry. By 2011, it anticipates that total soft drinks consumption will exceed 16bn litres and 260 litres per person, with pure juice, still juice drinks and bottled water leading the growth.