Soft drinks consumption in Chile surged 5.7% in the first half of 2004 to 809 m litres, its highest rate of growth for seven years.

But the National Soft Drinks Association is expecting to see growth slow in the second half of the year, as Chile's relatively high unemployment begins to impact on consumer confidence. The sector is expecting to generate a total of US$1 bln in sales in 2004.

In the first six months of 2004, sales of carbonated drinks were up 5.5% year-on-year to reach 699 m litres, while mineral water sales rose 6.5% to 64 m litres, and sales of juice and juice-based drinks rose 7.5% to 46 m litres.