Food News: Bottled Water Rivaling Soda

Bottled Water Catching Up With Soda Sales

Food News: Bottled Water Rivaling Soda

Bottled Water Catching Up With Soda Sales

U.S. bottled water grew 7 percent in 2014, putting it on track to outsell soda by 2017, according to the latest data from the Beverage Marketing Corp.

In the period from 2000 to 2014, per capital bottled water more than doubled to 34.02 gallons versus soda which fell to 39.92 gallons from 53.17 gallons. Even though water costs far less than soda , bottled water sales are are also getting closer;  2014 water sales was $18.82 billion versus soda's $36.87 billion.

One-fifth of the bottled water market is controlled by Coke and Pepsi, dominated by Coke's Dasani's brand and Pepsi's Aquafina.  These companies, as well as Nestlé, are fueling sales by developing flavored and electrolyte-infused waters like Smart Water, Detox Water, and Hint.  Bottled water's annual advertising budgets, while not at the level of soda, have also risen:  bottled water ad spending in 2014 was $84.5 million (soda ad spending was $650.6 million).

Despite bottled water's growing popularity, there are consumer and regulatory concerns, including the disposal and recycling of so many million plastic bottles.  For example, many of the nation's national parks, including the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore, ban the sale of bottled water.  

Environmental concerns are high especially in areas of the country that are suffering from drought conditions where both residents and regulators are protesting the taking of precious water resources by bottling companies to sell in other non-drought areas.  However, regardless of such protests and concerns, bottled water sales continue to grow.

Still some consumers are seeing the emperor's new clothes aspects of bottled water since it is a product that is actually free, a point particularly meaningful in an area like New York State which has, arguably, the best tap water in the country. 

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