Chicago-based Euromonitor International reports that global soft drink, also referred to as non-alcohol, volumes grew by just more than 3 percent in 2014, while value sales grew by more than 6 percent to reach $867.4 billion. Although the United States remains the world’s largest market in both value and volume terms, markets such as China, Brazil and Mexico are closing the gap with continued strong growth. Although global volume expansion has remained steady for several years, value growth accelerated in 2014, because of an improving outlook in key markets like Brazil, the market research firm reports.

On a regional level, Asia Pacific and Middle East Africa were leaders in terms of volume expansion, up 6.9 and 8.7 percent, respectively, in 2014. Going forward, these two regions will continue to drive overall volume growth, Euromonitor reports. However, investments will be necessary to take meaningful share in markets like India, Nigeria, or Indonesia, it adds.

Continuing a trend seen over the last decade, healthy and functional products led the way at the global level, with energy drinks and bottled water as the top performers, expanding 9.8 and 6.1 percent, respectively. However, top categories such as carbonated soft drinks and juice lagged behind amidst growing consumer concerns about sugar content, price and artificial flavors, the market research firm reports.

“The largest soft drinks players face two key challenges at the global level — driving meaningful value expansion in the largest developed markets while continuing to invest in distribution capacity in the frontier markets of tomorrow,” said Euromonitor International’s Head of Beverage Research Michael Schaefer in a statement. “At the same time, consumer tastes are changing. While carbonated soft drinks will continue to drive traffic and branding, demand is growing in every market for more customized, unique, healthier options.”

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