The nation’s healthiest beverage enjoys strong growth surge

For Media Release
June 26, 2015

Alexandria, VA – The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), in conjunction with Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), has released 2014 bottled water statistics, which show that Americans’ consumption of bottled water increased by 7.3 percent and bottled water sales are up 6.4 percent since the previous year.

“Consumers’ thirst for bottled water appears on track to per­sist in the years ahead. Changes in per capita consumption indicate enthusiasm for a product that consumers regard as a healthful alternative to other beverages,” said Michael Bellas, BMC chairman and CEO. “Americans upped their annual bottled water consumption by almost 11 gallons during the period 2004 to 2015. It went from 23.2 gallons per person in 2004 to 34 gallons in 2014. During the same period, per capita consumption of carbon­ated soft drinks dropped by more than a dozen gallons. Per capita consumption of other major beverage categories, like milk and fruit beverages, also declined.”

Reflecting a clear trend of consumers increasingly choosing healthy, convenient, zero-calorie bottled water, BMC reported that over the past five years alone, bottled water has increased its “share of stomach” of the overall beverage market from 14.4 percent in 2009, to 17.8 percent in 2014. With 20.9 percent, carbonated soft drinks currently holds the number one position. “If current trends persist, bottled water could emerge as the largest beverage category by volume in the country by the end of the decade,” said BMC’s Bellas.

Bottled water sales increased by 6.4 percent in 2014, and now total $13.07 billion (wholesale). In 2014, total U.S. bottled water consumption grew by 7.3 percent to 10.87 billion gallons, up from 10.13 billion gallons in 2013. In addition, per-capita consumption is up 6.2 percent in 2014, with every person in America drinking an average of 34 gallons of bottled water last year.

Meanwhile, carbonated soft drinks volume shrank yet again in 2014, as it has done every year since the mid-2000s. Fruit beverages have similarly eroded year after year, fading from having volume comparable to bottled water in the late 1990s to having volume less than one-third the size by 2014.

“There are many attributes that contribute to bottled water’s undeniable appeal to U.S. consumers,” said Chris Hogan, IBWA vice president of communications. “Among them are bottled water’s healthfulness, convenience, and safety.

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 ice cold (like soft drinks or juice) or warm (like conventional coffee or tea). And various packaging types, ranging from 5 and 3 gallon bottles used in homes and offices to single-serve containers sold at retail locations, facilitate a variety of uses.

Consumers’ interest in beverages that deliver benefits above and beyond simple refreshment also con­tributes to bottled water’s ascension in the beverage rankings. Amid worries about obesity, diabetes, and other health matters, bottled water’s lack of calories and ar­tificial ingredients, convenience, and refreshing taste attracts health-conscientious consumers.

 “Although it has occasionally been compared with tap water, bottled water in fact realized its prominence as a healthful choice for consumers seeking to reduce their consumption of other less healthy packaged beverages. While some consumers have turned away from regular, full-calorie sodas in favor of their diet versions, many others transitioned to bottled water instead,” said Bellas.

Indeed, as some consumers became wary of artificial sweeteners, they abandoned diet as well as regular soda—while bottled water volume just got bigger.

Bottled water is comprehensively regulated as a food product by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the FDA regulations governing the safety and quality of bottled water must be at least as stringent as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for tap water.  And, in some very important cases like lead, coliform bacteria, and E. coli, bottled water regulations are substantially more stringent.

The bottled water industry is utilizing a variety of measures to continue reducing its environmental impact. All bottled water containers are 100 percent recyclable and many bottled water companies are already using recycled plastic in their bottles. Some are already producing 100 percent recycled PET plastic bottled water containers.

“Bottled water’s environmental footprint is the lowest of any packaged beverage, according to a life cycle assessment conducted by Quantis in 2010,” said Hogan. “Bottled water has the smallest water and energy use footprint of any packaged beverage. The results of a 2014 benchmarking study show that the amount of water and energy used to produce bottled water products in North America is less than all other types of packaged beverages. On average, only 1.32 liters of water (including the liter of water consumed) and 0.24 mega joules of energy are used to produce one liter of finished bottled water.”

Although data derived from EPA figures demonstrates that plastic water bottles make up less than one-third of one percent of the U.S. waste stream, the bottled water industry works hard on a number of fronts with recycling advocates, communities, and our beverage and food partners to increase recycling rates.  In fact, between 2000 and 2011, the average weight of a 16.9-ounce (half-liter) PET plastic bottle has declined nearly 48 percent. This has resulted in a savings of 3.3 billion pounds of PET resin since 2000.  At 37 percent, percent, the recycling rate for single-serve PET plastic bottled water containers has more than doubled between 2003 and 2013, and PET plastic bottled water containers are the most frequently recycled PET beverage container in curbside recycling programs.

More information about bottled water can be found at www.bottledwater.org.  

BMC is a research, consulting, and financial services firm dedicated to the global beverage industry (www.beveragemarketing.com). 

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NOTE: Photos/head shots available upon request

Media Contact:
Jill Culora
jculora@bottledwater.org
703.647.4609

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is the authoritative source of information about all types of bottled waters, including spring, mineral, purified, artesian, and sparkling. Founded in 1958, IBWA's membership includes U.S. and international water bottlers, distributors and suppliers. IBWA is committed to working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates IBWA bottled water as a packaged food product, to set comprehensive and stringent standards for safe, high-quality bottled water products.

In addition to FDA regulations, IBWA member water bottlers must adhere to the IBWA Bottled Water Code of Practice, which mandates additional standards and practices that in some cases are more stringent than federal and state regulations. A key feature of the IBWA Bottled Water Code of Practice is a mandatory annual plant inspection by an independent, third-party organization.

IBWA is proud to help support Drink Up!, an initiative of former First Lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), which encourages everyone to drink more water more often – whether from the tap, a filter, or in a bottle. Choosing water is always the healthy choice.

Consumers can contact IBWA at 1-800-WATER-11 or visit IBWA's website (www.bottledwater.org) for more information about bottled water. Media inquiries can be directed to IBWA Vice President of Communications Jill Culora at 703-647-4609 or jculora@bottledwater.org.