Poland's packaged beverage industry, which grew more than 12% last in volume last year, will continue to grow in 2003, as the country enters the EU.

In a report released today, drinks industry analysts Canadean said that the growing market will be further boosted by the removal of government restrictions on advertising and the decision not to implement planned tax increases in the all important beer sector.

Although beer already amounts to almost one third of the packaged market it was able to grow by over 9% during 2002 thanks to relatively low per capita consumption, the long hot summer and low prices. Can volumes (mainly 50cl) were up, taking almost 35% of fillings, while refillable glass continued its long-term decline - losing another 3%.

PET bottles have made only a minor impact on the beer market which certainly cannot be said of the packaged water sector where almost 84% of all litreage sold is now packaged in non-refillable PET.

Despite this, says Canadean, per capita consumption is still low by west European standards leaving scope for expansion. The main beneficiary will be PET which has yet to reach its full potential, while the traditional glass bottle continues to decline, having fallen from almost a quarter of sales at the turn of the century to less than 17% of total packaged water fillings in 2002. Non-refillable PET also made a major contribution to the substantial growth experienced by both the carbonates and still drinks sectors and is expected to do so again this year.

Despite the emphasis on PET, the report also outlines the importance of other materials on the Polish market. Metal's share of total beer and soft drinks fillings rose by more than a third last year - mainly due to its successes in the beer and carbonates sectors. These are attributed to the can being a relatively low cost pack with additional savings in transport costs compared to PET.

PET is, furthermore, conspicuous by its absence from the expanding juice and nectars sector where the long-life carton remained the dominant pack type continuing on a growth curve that is predicted to last into 2003. Where cartons have lost out, in single-serve, it has been to non-refillable glass. Low per capita consumption, says Canadean, means that there is further scope for current expansionary trends to continue.

However, there is no denying the growing importance of PET as a packaging material on the Polish market. Non-refillable PET last year amounted to 43% of fillings and is leading the tendency, which has hoisted non-refillable packs to account for more than 75%.

Looking to the future, Canadean believes that overall beverage consumption will continue to grow. They also believe that forthcoming EU membership will help boost sales, not just of beer, but also of those soft drinks categories which currently have a low per capita consumption compared with Western Europe.