Over the last five years sales for products deemed as both premium and super premium beers have grown at an average rate of eight per cent per annum, about double that of discounted beer brands, the analyst added. The figures will highlight the opportunities and threats facing brewers across the globe of adopting premium beer brands, as the market comes under increasing competition from shifting consumer taste towards wines and spirits. Canadean added that the trend for higher-value beers had been driven by increased disposable income amongst consumers. The report added that major brewers like Heineken and Carlsberg have picked up on the trend and have all moved to extend their product portfolios accordingly. Markets like the US were found to be the major contributors to the growth, with premium beers accounting for about 25 per cent of the country's beer sales volumes. In the highly fragmented Chinese beer market, Canadean found that only a handful of premium brands like Pabst Blue Ribbon and Budweiser were posting strong growth, due in part to their early entry into the market. However, with increasing financial prosperity in the country resulting in the emergence of a growing middle class, prospects are expected to remain bright. Markets in Central and South America were found to have undergone the most dynamic international growth in regards to premium beer sales, due almost entirely to the Modelo brand, the report said. By contrast, Mexican brand Corona, which currently dominates beer sales in the US and is the world's third best selling beer, was not even considered a premium brand on the domestic market, Canadean added The report also highlighted Eastern Europe as another market showing huge potential for sales growth in the segment, on the back of the performance of premium beers in Russia. The expansion into the country of brewers like Baltic Beverage Holdings (BBH) and the shift in consumer tastes from spirits to wine and beer had helped contribute to a 17 per cent year-on-year increase, according to the report. By contrast, Western Europe was found to be the only market where premium beer and super premium beers sales were declining. The change was found to be part of a wider decline in volumes of all beer catergories in the region, according to Canadean.