Healthy option soft drinks look to be the key driver in terms of the UK soft drinks market, according to a new report published by Zenith International.

"Health, wellbeing, functionality and convenience have been the key factors shaping the UK soft drinks market," said Zenith market intelligence director Gary Roethenbaugh. "Premium health and wellness drinks led the way. Chilled juice, smoothies, still juice drinks, energy and sports drinks witnessed the highest growth last year."

Carbonates continue to claim the largest market share, accounting for 42% of consumption in 2007. Ready-to-drink dilutables had a 24% share, followed by bottled water with 15%, fruit juice/nectars with 11% and still drinks with the remaining 8%. Sales of smoothies have benefited from consumers’ interest in health and wellness products, seeing a 44% rise in volume sales. Research by the drinks consultancy also revealed that despite the wet summer of 2007, soft drinks sales took less than a 1% dip, achieving a retail value of £12.9bn.

Despite price pressures, Zenith expects that total soft drinks consumption will exceed 15,000 million tonnes - the equivalent of 249 litres per person - by 2012.