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US consumers are drinking more bottled water than any other packaged beverage, with the category outselling carbonated soft drinks by volume for the first time in history, according to the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) and the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC).
Bottled water sales increased by 10% in 2016, and now total $16 billion at wholesale level. Total US bottled water consumption grew 8.6% in 2016 to reach 12.8 billion gallons – up from 11.8 billion gallons in 2015 – while individual consumption amounted to 39.3 gallons per person. In contrast, average consumption of carbonated soft drinks fell to around 38.5 gallons per person, the BMC figures show.
It makes bottled water both the healthiest and most popular drink in the country, the two organisations claimed.
The data makes good on a prediction made last year that bottled water sales would overtake fizzy drink sales by 2017 at the latest.
BMC chairman and CEO Michael C Bellas said: “Bottled water effectively reshaped the beverage marketplace. When Perrier first entered the country in the 1970s, few would have predicted the heights to which bottled water would eventually climb. Where once it would have been unimaginable to see Americans walking down the street carrying plastic bottles of water, or driving around with them in their cars’ cup holders, now that’s the norm.
“With the exception of two relatively small declines in 2008 and 2009 – when most beverage categories contracted – bottled water volume grew every year from 1977 to 2016. This period included 17 double-digit annual volume growth spurts. Since resuming growth in 2010, bottled water volume has consistently enlarged at solid single-digit percentage rates.”
A Harris Poll survey for the IBWA showed that 86% of people purchased bottled water. The amount consumed in 2016 was a record in volume terms and 4 billion gallons higher than it was ten years ago, while the soft drinks sector endured its 11th consecutive year of volume decline.
Consumers are turning their backs on sugary drinks, so much so that companies like PepsiCo are shifting their focus away from carbonates.
Joe Doss, IBWA president and CEO, said: “Bottled water’s versatility makes it suitable for consumption at any time of day and in just about any setting or situation. It doesn’t need to be kept cold (like soft drinks or juice) or warm (like conventional coffee or tea). And various packaging types – ranging from 3- and 5-gallon bottles used in homes and offices to single-serve containers sold at retail locations – facilitate a variety of uses.
“Amid worries about obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other health matters, bottled water’s lack of calories and artificial ingredients, convenience, and refreshing taste attracts health-conscious consumers. And as some consumers are becoming wary of artificial sweeteners, they are abandoning diet as well as regular soda and instead are switching to bottled water.
“Bottled water’s environmental footprint is the lowest of any packaged beverage, according to a life cycle assessment conducted by Quantis.
“And when it comes to overall water use, the bottled water industry is actually a small and efficient water user. Bottled water uses only 0.011% of all water used in the United States.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2017