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Published:  23 July, 2008

UK society is moving towards more cosmopolitan (or even continental European) models of consumer behaviour with regard to food and drink - with taking a glass of wine with food increasingly seen as a civilised alternative to visiting a pub, according to a new report from market intelligence providers, Key Note. Its new Drinks Market review examines the UK market for commercially sold drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. It includes a Key Note commissioned BMRB International survey examining two key aspects of the UK drinks market - the popularity of certain drinking occasions and the penetration of the leading drinks brands. It states: The most obvious trend in 2004 was a decline in the positive response rate for most occasions. However, in any questions relating to controversial subjects such as alcohol consumption, respondents will tend to err on the politically correct' side - particularly when one considers the current social climate. However, comparing the 2000 and 2004 results, most of the rankings remain the same. The main occasions for drinking - celebrations and parties, on holiday, at a pub with friends and with meals - retain their legitimacy for the majority of consumers. The report says there was a steep drop in the popularity of drinking during a sporting occasion' - from 29% in 2000 to 22% in 2004 - since the authorities increasingly frown on any link between sporting pursuits and alcohol. Similarly, drinking while watching television is an activity that is now associated in the minds of many consumers with laziness and the problem of "couch-potato" obesity.' Between 2005 and 2009, Key Note forecasts very slow growth at current prices for the total drinks market. Wine will fare best, along with soft drinks, while beer and hot drinks are among the sectors that are likely to contract in size.