The world increased its beer consumption in 2008 despite the economic turmoil, according to Canadean's Global Beer Trends Report, published October 13.

Beer is most loved in the Czech Republic, with each drinker consuming more than 160 liters (42 gallons) annually, topping world consumption.

While the beer market slowed from 6 percent growth in 2007 to just 2 percent growth in 2008, Canadean expects a serious acceleration in demand in 2010.

The main drivers of growth are Asia and Latin America, fueled by China and Brazil, respectively.

China, which now accounts for 70 percent of all beer sales in Asia, has been sustaining the worldwide beer market via its exceptional growth, according to the report.

Beer also continues to flourish in Brazil, which is now the fourth-largest beer producer in the world.

While North America and Europe comprise 45% of global beer volumes, Western European drinkers are currently shunning beer while beer sales in North America are merely stable.

The usually robust Russian market also saw its first decline in a decade in 2008 with sales projected to worsen, according to the report.

In terms of percentage growth, the Middle East and North Africa is the fastest growing region of beer drinkers.

But the average consumer in the Middle East and North Africa drinks just 2 liters (0.52 gallons) of beer per year, less than 10 percent the world average, and accounting for less than 1 percent of overall global sales.

Canadean is a UK-based international beverage industry information specialist.