DUIVEN, THE NETHERLANDS — Global introductions of new soft drink products have increased with Innova Market Insights recording a significant rise in launch activity during the past two years.

Fruit juices and fruit beverages top the launch activity with more than 43% of the total, and carbonates came in second with 14%, ahead of concentrates and mixes, followed by iced tea and coffee beverages, sports and energy beverages, plain and flavored water and sports and energy beverages.

During the past five years, the share of carbonates, juices and juice beverages, concentrates and mixes and iced tea and coffee have increased while share of bottled water and sports and energy drinks have declined.

Yet a declining share of launches does not mean a poor market performance.

“Sports and energy drinks remain one of the fastest growing sectors of the market over that period, despite their share of global soft drinks launch activity falling from a peak of 13% in 2005 to just under 7% today,” said Lu Ann Williams, research manager for Innova Market Insights. “Consolidation in the increasingly mature market, particularly the greater dominance of multi-national brands and the disappearance of many smaller brands, is probably the main reason for slowing activity rates, although actual launch numbers did still rise over the five-year period.”

Health continues to be an important factor in the market with more than 58% of the soft drink launches in the 12 months ended June 2012 having a health positioning of some kind with more than half using passive health claims and 18% using active health claims. The most popular claims were related to being natural and free from artificial additives and preservatives. More than 23% of launches had free-from additives and preservatives claims and 13% had natural claims.

Low-calorie and diet beverages also were popular with reduced-sugar claims being second overall in health claims, ahead of low-calorie products.