U.S. bottled water sales, consumption on the rise

by Eric Schroeder
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ALEXANDRIA, VA. — U.S. bottled water sales and consumption are on rise, according to newly-released statistics from Beverage Marketing Corp. (B.M.C.). In issuing its findings, B.M.C. said consumers are increasingly choosing bottled water over other commercial beverages. This upward trend was reflected in 2005 when total bottled water volume exceeded 7.5 billion gallons, a 10.7% increase over 2004; and the 2005 bottled water per capita consumption level of 26.1 gallons increased by more than two gallons, from the 23.8 gallons per capita the previous year.

Wholesale dollar sales for bottled water exceeded $10 billion in 2005, a 9.2% increase over the $9.2 billion in 2004, according to B.M.C. These statistics demonstrate continued consumer demand for the convenience and taste of bottled water brands consumed on-the-go, during exercise, at restaurants or meetings, and at home or the office.

According to the International Bottled Water Association (I.B.W.A.), bottled water also has benefited from multiple layers of regulation and standards at the federal, state and industry levels that regulate water safety and quality.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) fully regulates bottled water as a packaged food product with stringent standards for safety, quality, production, labeling and identity. State governments also regulate bottled water and members of the I.B.W.A. are required to comply with additional standards that are verified through annual, unannounced plant inspections by an independent, third-party organization.

"While all beverages have their role in a marketplace with an abundance of drink choices, consumers are choosing bottled water as a refreshing, hydrating beverage and as an alternative to drinks that may contain calories, caffeine, sugar, artificial colors, alcohol or other ingredients, which they may wish to moderate or avoid," said Stephen R. Kay, vice-president of communications for the I.B.W.A. "For instance, during 2005, bottled water containers of 1.5 liters (50 oz) and smaller, accounted for 52.8% of the volume of bottled water sold, indicating that consumers are choosing bottled water in lieu of other packaged beverages."

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