Following the sales boost provided by the 2018 summer heatwave, year-on-year sales of plain water products in the UK declined in 2019, according to market research firm Zenith Global’s latest UK Plain Water Report.
Volumes excluding water coolers and dispensers dipped 3.1% to 3.5 billion litres in 2019, while value fell 2.5% to £2.7 billion.
The long heatwave in the summer of 2018 significantly boosted plain water sales in that year, and 2019 sales were unable to reach this high bar. However, plain water sales in 2019 still surpassed 2017 sales, as regular hydration has become a more important priority for many consumers.
The report found that the average UK consumer buys 1 litre of plain water each week (52.5 litres per year) and that 45% of consumers in the UK purchase plain water.
Still water accounts for 85% of volume and sparkling water 15%, while retailer own-brand labels have grown to a 43% volume share.
Zenith Global chairman Richard Hall said: “Healthy hydration has become firmly established as a driver for UK consumer behaviour over the past 20 years. A hot summer always boosts sales, but everyday hydration is undoubtedly gaining impetus.
“Plastic concerns, however, have dented growth recently and consumers now have more refill options as well as dispense machines available. The industry has been energetic in lightweighing bottles, increasing recycling and using recycled content, but it may be some years before plastic has fully answered the sustainability call.”
Hall continued: “The coronavirus outbreak has made hydration even more important and boosted stockpiling sales in March, but the absence of hotel, restaurant, pub and travel sales during the lockdown will subdue the market in 2020. Over time, the market will surely recover its growth momentum.
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