Soft drinks consumption worldwide is growing by around 5 per cent a year, helped by new product development and by the growth of emerging markets in Asia and Eastern Europe.
The latest report from drinks consultancy Zenith International, Global Soft Drinks 2002, shows that total soft drinks volumes reached 412,000 million litres in 2001, equivalent to 67.5 litres per person.
The report also reveals that North America is the largest soft drinks market with a 27 per cent of total volume sales in 2001, while carbonates are the biggest soft drinks sector, accounting for 45 per cent of global volume.
But it is the bottled water segment which is showing the fastest growth, rising by 10 per cent in 2001 and accounting for 53 per cent of total soft drinks growth from 1996 to 2001.
While the last year has seen a number of new products hit the market, such as lemon or vanilla variants of perennial market leaders Coca-Cola and Pepsi, these new products have only accounted for a small amount of the growth in the global soft drinks market, coming as they have in the mainly saturated markets in the west.
Rather, it is the success of soft drinks sales in markets in Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East which has been the main driving force behind the world wide growth. The Zenith report shows that that five fastest growing countries between 1996 and 2001 were all from these regions, and that the five fastest growing countries between 2001 and 2006 are all expected to come form Asia.
"It is important to note the advance of Asia, East Europe and other developing markets," commented Zenith research director Gary Roethenbaugh. "Thanks to highly populous and rapidly emerging markets such as China and India, consumption in Asia is projected to overtake that of North America in 2006."
He said that Pakistan was expected to have the highest percentage growth rate of all over the next five years, while its neighbour India was also expected to see a sharp increase in volume sales as the country's massive population becomes increasingly affluent. Indonesia, China and Vietnam are the other three Asian markets expected to see substantial growth.
The Zenith report suggests that the overall market should hit 523,000 million litres in 2006, and that the 5 per cent growth rate was far better than that seen in rival sectors such as hot drinks (1 per cent), milk (2 per cent) and alcoholic drinks (3 per cent).
"Economic obstacles and climate fluctuations will, of course, present numerous challenges, but the outlook for global soft drinks is as strong today as it has ever been," concluded Roethenbaugh.