The latest joint research from The IWSR and just-drinks has predicted that the global market for ready-to-drink (RTD) products will go from "strength to strength" over the next five years.

In research published this month, The IWSR and just-drinks have forecast that the overall category will swell from 393m cases last year to 455m cases by 2020. The growth would represent a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3%.

Key to the overall growth is "explosive" expansion in China, which will join the U.S. and Japan as the principal national markets for RTDs. Together, the U.S., Japan and China will account for more than 280m cases by 2020.

While there were signs of a slowdown in China last year, the report states growth in the country over recent years has been phenomenal. As recently as 2012, RTD volumes were only just above 1m cases, but China grew to an 8m-case market by 2014. With a CAGR of 37.2%, volumes in China will reach 64m cases in 2020, the report forecasts.

Growth trends in the more mature markets of the U.S. and Japan look "unspectacular" by comparison, the report states, "but both will exhibit solid growth." The U.S. will expand by a CAGR of 1.1% to reach 116m cases in 2020, and Japan is expected to grow by a CAGR of 2.1% to 103m cases.
Recent dramatic volume declines in Russia, however, are set to continue.

While other principal developed markets – namely Australia, the U.K. and South Africa – will experience slow category declines of less than 1% (CAGR) to 2020, the report says this will be partially offset by gains in a number of emerging markets such as Brazil, Argentina, India and the Philippines. Other emerging markets of note are to be found in sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Angola, Cameroon and Namibia are all predicted to show good growth during the forecast period.

The predicted pattern for the coming five years builds on strong success between 2010 and 2014 that saw the global market for mixed drinks add almost 70m cases to reach nearly 390m cases.