The global market for beverage packaging shows signs of both enduring tradition and dynamic change says a new report. Nearly two thirds of the world's beer continues to be distributed in the humble, refillable glass bottle but the most popular packaging material for all beverages world-wide is now non-refillable PET say drinks industry analysts Canadean.

Driven by growth in the world's largest beer market - China - the proportion of beer packaged in glass has risen from around 61% in 1998 to almost 63% in 2002, with only a minuscule amount of the increase attributable to non-refillable. Both packaged water and carbonates also continue to use substantial volumes of glass with refillable keeping the lead over non-refillable.

However, lightweight, resilient and affordable, non-refillable PET now accounts for more than one third of the global pack mix, having increased volume by 50% between 1998 and 2002. The vast bulk of this growth - almost half - is accounted for by packaged water sales in the US, China, France, Spain, Indonesia and Italy. In 1998 just over a quarter of the world's packaged water came in glass and 57% in PET. By 2002 the share had changed to 18% and 73% respectively. More than half of all carbonates are also now packaged in PET.

The most dynamic pack format on the world stage is single-serve PET, particularly in the packaged water sector where sales are spearheaded by the 50cl size, although in the US it is the 1 litre bottle that is the biggest seller. Elsewhere a variety of trends are highlighted. On the Brazilian and Mexican carbonates markets the two-litre PET bottle is the favoured format while the single serve 60cl size is becoming increasingly important in Mexico and the 2.5 litre bottle is making inroads in Brazil.

Other packaging materials have however marked time, or even had their volume share of the total beverage market eroded in the period 1998-2002. Metal, for example the third largest sector after glass and PET, has seen cans struggling to retain around a quarter of the world carbonates market and below one per cent of packaged water sales.