Consumer trends for health and indulgence are expected to drive "significant" growth in premium soft drinks over the next five years, the marketing head of Britvic has said.
Andrew Marsden, marketing director for UK soft drinks firm, told BeverageDaily.com new ideas for functional drinks and new technology should drive "a significant increase in premiumisation".
His comments followed the launch of Britvic's annual soft drinks industry report for the UK, which showed the take-home sector increased value by eight per cent to £5.89bn in 2006.
Only toilet paper matched this growth out of the UK's top 10 grocery categories, and the news has put the industry in a bullish mood.
Marsden predicted there would be lots of opportunities for new technology in the soft drinks market over the next five years, although he refused to comment on any specific ideas Britvic might have.
Texture, aroma and exoticism, perhaps using new, antioxidant-rich fruits such as the açai berry, would be key areas for development within health and indulgence trends, he said.
Britvic's industry report again highlighted the pace of a consumer shift towards healthier soft drinks.
The firm said two thirds of people had changed their drinking habits over the last year, and that still drinks now accounted for 56 per cent of the UK soft drinks market by value.
Paul Moody, Britvic's chief executive, said the industry was answering health trends by continuing to remove artificial additives and flavours, in favour of "fresh, natural and 'from scratch' drinks".
But, he warned against an obsession with health: "Enjoyment is still the overriding reason why consumers drink soft drinks."
He told BeverageDaily.com he expected still drinks to continue increasing market share "bit by bit", and that huge growth potential existed in bottled water in Britain.
He admitted there was a growing consumer tendency to view all carbonated fizzy drinks as inherently bad, but said sugar-free and diet products, as well as innovation using aroma and natural ingredients, would help the category hold its own.
A report in last weekend's Sunday Telegraph claimed top soft drinks makers were working on an array of outlandish innovations, such as a turbo fizz dial on the side of drinks cans, to expand the carbonated drinks sector.