The World’s Five Most Consumed Beverages

The World’s Five Most Consumed Beverages

The broadest definition of a beverage is “any portable liquid”, suggesting the term includes water. Colloquially known as “the elixir of life”, humans cannot live without water for more than 3 days. Moreover, hydration purposes aside, we need water for almost every aspect of our daily lives, i.e. washing, cleaning, laundry, cooking, growing crops, etc. And, of course, water is by far the greatest constituent of all other beverages.

A recently published report announced the global beverage industry turned over US$3.56 trillion in 2023. So, discounting water, just what are the world’s favourite drinks? Here’s a brief rundown of the world’s five most-consumed beverages by volume:

No. 1 – Tea

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Excluding water, tea is the world’s most widely consumed beverage. The earliest records of tea drinking emanate from 3rd-century China, where it was originally consumed for medicinal purposes. In 2020, global tea production surpassed 7 million tonnes for the first time. Across the globe, more than 5 billion cups or 1.18 billion litres of tea are drunk daily. China, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and  Indonesia are the world’s biggest tea producers. Turks drink the most tea per capita, with each adult consuming an average of 1,300 cups per year. According to experts, the global tea market will hit more than US$265 billion by 2025.

No. 2 – Soft Drinks

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A soft drink is generally recognised as any water-based flavoured drink. Most are carbonated and artificially sweetened. Joseph Schweppes produced the world’s first soft drink (soda water) in Geneva in 1783. Globally, some 0.91 billion litres of soft drinks are consumed daily. The USA, China, the UK and Japan are the world’s biggest producers of soft drinks. Coca-Cola is (by far) the world’s largest soft drinks company, hogging more than 40% of the global market. The Argentinians are the world’s biggest soft drink consumers (155 litres annually) per capita. The global soft drinks market is expected to top US$900 billion in 2025.

No. 3 – Coffee

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Coffee is the world’s third most popular beverage. The earliest credible evidence of coffee drinking can be traced back to 15th-century Sufi monks of Yemen, who drank it to aid concentration. In 2023, global coffee production exceeded more than 10 million tonnes. Globally, around 2.25 billion cups or 0.53 billion litres of coffee are consumed daily.  Brazil, Vietnam, Columbia, Indonesia and Honduras are the world’s biggest coffee producers. Finland drinks the most coffee per capita, with each adult consuming an average of 1400 cups yearly. The global coffee market is expected to reach around US$145 billion in 2025.

No. 4 – Beer

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Beer can claim to be the world’s second-oldest beverage after wine. Archaeological evidence suggests beer was first produced in modern-day Iran as early as 3,500 BC. Some 0.53 billion litres of beer are currently consumed daily throughout the globe. China easily consumes more beer than any other country on an annual basis. The USA, Brazil, Mexico and Russia follow China in terms of global beer consumption, However, in the Czech Republic each adult downs an average of 189 litres of beer per annum, making them the world’s top drinkers. In 2025, the global beer market is expected to be worth at least US$675 billion.

No. 5 – Wine

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Discounting water, wine is the world’s fifth most consumed beverage. The earliest evidence of wine production emanates from present-day Georgia around 6000 BC. Almost 61 million litres of wine are drunk daily throughout the world. Italy, France, Spain, the USA and Australia are the world’s five biggest wine-producing countries. At around 3.4 billion litres per annum, the USA consumes more wine than any other country. However, it is the Portuguese, consuming some 68 litres per capita per annum that tops the world’s wine-drinking chart. In 2025, the global wine market is predicted to be worth around US$365 billion.


Header photo credit: PickPix/CC0 1.0 Public Domain

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