The UK drinks industry is now worth £49.5 billion, representing a 7% share of total consumer spending, according to a report released this week.

However, Research and Markets' 2003 UK Drinks Market report says that in the 5 years leading up to 2003, spending on drinks is estimated to have risen by only 16%, or by 6% in real terms (at 1999 prices).

"The low annual average rate of growth stems from a combination of factors: the maturity of many drinks sectors, including beer, cider, cola, fruit juice and most spirits; generally low inflation and severe price competition on drinks in the grocery sector and a lack of real innovation in the marketplace, with no major drinks categories breaking through," the report claims.