UK bottled water sales surged by 18 percent to 2,070 million liters in 2003, translating into almost £1,200 million in retail value, according to the 13th annual UK Bottled Water report from specialist consultants Zenith International.
Bottled water has consistently outperformed other major soft drinks categories in recent years. The hot summer experienced in 2003 significantly contributed to the markets strong uplift. Yet the UK industry has achieved double digit volume growth every year since 1996. Still water for everyday use has provided the main impetus, gaining 20 percent in 2003 to reach a share of 85 percent.
"Greater public understanding of health issues has enabled bottled water to capitalise on its hydration benefits," commented Zenith Research Director Gary Roethenbaugh. "Single serve packs offer consumers convenience on the move with a zero calorie beverage for todays obesity aware times. Water coolers are also continuing to build scale as chilled and caffeine free office refreshment."
From schoolchildren to adults, bottled water is increasingly accessible. In 2003, more than 1,600 million litrers were sold in retail size packs and some 2,300 million cups were filled from water coolers. Natural mineral water remains the preferred type, accounting for 65 percent of overall volume. The top three brands Evian and Volvic from Danone, and Highland Spring are all mineral waters.
World market leaders Danone and Nestlé both expanded their water cooler interests in 2003 to reach a combined 37 percent of total UK consumption for the year. Highland Spring, Well Well Well and Campsie Spring are the next three largest players. "The UK market also has an array of smaller operators carving out their own niches," Gary Roethenbaugh added. "The entrance of Coca-Cola's Dasani and other new brand launches is intensifying competition and putting further pressure on shelf space."
At 35 liters per person, consumption is well behind the West European average of more than 100 liters. Zenith forecasts UK sales rising to more than 3,500 million liters in 2008, a continuing annual growth rate of 10-12 percent. Should last years summer heatwave be repeated, these figures could well be surpassed.