Bottled water industry gets boost from developing economies

By Daniel Palmer, Australian Food News

Global bottled water consumption advanced 4.5 per cent to 218 billion litres in 2008, according to a new report from drinks consultancy Zenith International. Growth of relatively low per person consumption in less developed bottled water markets helped to counteract the combined pressures of the economic downturn alongside public concerns over the environment, the 2009 Global Bottled Water report highlighted.

Asia/Australasia reinforced its position as the biggest volume regional market, achieving a 28% share, after a rise of 11%. Africa and the Middle East also recorded gains – of 14% and 6% respectively, but hold a combined share of just 11%. Consumption increased in all other regions except West Europe, which remained static, and North America, which contracted by 0.7% in 2008. Despite a decline, the United States is still the largest national market in the world in both volume and value.

“Broadly, it can be said that the bottled water world is split into two halves,” Zenith Market Intelligence Director Gary Roethenbaugh remarked. “The more mature markets of North America and West Europe have witnessed a gradual deceleration over the past few years; whereas most other countries are continuing to drive growth of the category and this is likely to remain the case in the near future.”

The world’s top four bottled water companies – respectively Nestlé, Danone, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo – held a combined 31% volume share in 2008. Danone and Nestlé each own three of the top 10 brands by volume. The top five global brands in volume terms were Aqua from Danone, Pure Life from Nestlé, Wahaha from Danone, Aquafina from PepsiCo and Electropura also from PepsiCo. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo each have two brands in the top 10.

All these companies have noted a further decline in growth in their major markets this year as more people head to the tap in light of economic circumstances. Continued concern from environemntal groups has also weighed on sales and even led to a few small towns and soe government departments around the world banning bottled water.

Other points highlighted by the Zenith report include findings that:

  • Consumption per person reached 32.3 litres in 2008, up 1.1 litres on 2007.
  • The United States and China were the two biggest volume markets, with Indonesia and Mexico maintaining their lead over Germany in 5th place.
  • Still water continued to outpace sparkling water, reaching 86% of total volume.
  • Bulk sizes above 10 litres accounted for 36% of overall consumption.

Zenith predicts bottled water consumption will rise a further 18% to 259 billion litres in 2013.