But functional beverages are growing at the fastest rate – 6.4 per cent in the past year – as more consumers internationally embrace healthy dieting.
"Health continues as an increasingly important factor driving purchasing behaviour around the globe," said Zenith market intelligence director, Gary Roethenbaugh.
"In 2007, bottled water beat carbonated soft drinks and became the largest market by volume. In the context of rising concerns about obesity and greater interest in health, consumers are re-evaluating their choices and turning to healthier refreshments. Still fruit, tea and sports drinks enjoyed the highest growth of all.”
All categories saw overall growth with soft drinks rising 3.9 per cent in 2007 to 552 billion litres, equivalent to 82.5 litres per person. By 2012, Zenith predicts global soft drinks consumption will reach 675 billion litres and 95 litres per person.
Only Western Europe, in bottled water, saw a decline.
In terms of bottled water consumption, Eastern Europe notched the fastest growth with per capita volumes swelling by 35.6 litres since 2002.
Overall share saw bottled water claim 37.3 per cent in 2007, inching past long-term leader, carbonated beverages, which had 36.8 per cent. Still drinks captured 12.7 per cent, followed by fruit juice/nectars on 7.1 per cent and dilutables on 6.1 per cent.
Asia Pacific had the highest regional share at 23.7 per cent, shading North America on 23.6 per cent but expected to have 35 per cent of the market by 2012.
Between 2002 and 2007, Indonesia achieved the highest growth, with volume increasing by 117 per cent. The Ukraine beverages sector grew 92 per cent growth, followed by Bulgaria on 87 per cent.