Consumers are drinking soft drinks more regularly - so says a new report from Datamonitor. It states that UK consumers had 2.3 ’soft drink occasions’ per person in 2006, but this is expected to reach 2.9 occasions by 2009. Matthew Jones, consumer market analyst and author of the report, explained: "Greater knowledge on the importance of hydration, maintaining a healthy diet and an awareness of nutritional needs, together with a growth in scepticism towards sugared carbonates, are all contributing to a dynamic soft drinks market."

When it comes to what people are drinking, carbonate consumption in the UK is forecast to decline from 61% of total soft drink consumption to 50% by 2011. In contrast, the report predicts that juices will grow from 16% to 22%, while bottled water will increase from 19% to 24% .

Datamonitor also looked at hot beverages and found that the UK population is one of the biggest consumers in Europe.

Here we have, on average, 3.7 hot drink occasions per person per day, compared to 3.2 across Europe.

Tea is the nation’s favourite cuppa but Datamonitor expects its share of hot drinks to decline from 64% to 62% by 2011.

"Conflicting consumer demands mean that it is imperative for marketers to target specific hot and soft drink occasions in order to grow consumption," said Jones.

"Due to legislation preventing sugared carbonates in schools, developing products that incorporate healthy ingredients and lower sugar levels will be essential to maintaining market share."