Cola doubled its value growth by 4% in the year to Dec 27, 2008, and remains the top sub-category with sales of £1.29 billion.
Pure juice held on to second place with 20% market share behind
cola's 21%, and in the third spot is glucose and stimulant drinks, which are driving the market with 12% value growth.
A second consecutive poor summer hasn't helped plain water. After failing 3% in 2007, sales dropped by a further 9% in 2008 to £417 million, the Nielsen figures show.
The tide has also turned for smoothies, with sales down 20% in value and 15% in volume. The fall was le d by sub-category leader Innocent, which saw value sales plummet by 26%. As consumers count the pennies more carefully, it's becoming harder for smoothies to command such a high price premium, according to customer management director Andrew Richards.
The top three take-home brands by value are Coca-Cola, Lucozade and Robinsons, with sales up 1%, 3% and 6% respectively. Tropicana recorded the biggest sales rise with 16% growth.
Consumers are turning towards brands "they know and trust" as economic conditions deteriorate and are showing "little desire to trade down to own-label goods or value tier brands," Richards added.