Newly released statistics by Beverage Marketing Corp. show that U.S. bottled water sales and consumption continue to rise, as consumers increasingly choose bottled water over other commercial beverages. This upward trend was reflected in 2005 when total bottled water volume exceeded 7.5 billion gal, a 10.7% increase over 2004; and the 2005 bottled water per capita consumption level of 26.1 gal increased by over 2 gal, from the 23.8 gal per capita the previous year. Additionally, the wholesale dollar sales for bottled water exceeded $10 billion in 2005, a 9.2% increase over the $9.2 billion in 2004.
These statistics demonstrate continued consumer demand and appreciation for the convenience and good taste of bottled water brands consumed on-the-go, during exercise, at restaurants or meetings, and at home or in the office. However, consumers should also know that bottled water safety and quality result from multiple layers of regulation and standards at the federal, state and industry levels.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 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 International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) are required to comply with additional standards that are verified through annual, unannounced plant inspections by an independent third-party organization.
Along with FDA's general Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), which are required of all foods, bottled water must further comply with other applicable FDA regulations, including Standards of Identity, Standards of Quality and additional, specific bottled water GMPs. Being a packaged food product, bottled water is also bound by the Nutrition Labeling Education Act (NLEA) and the full range of FDA protective measures designed to help ensure product safety and protect consumers. States also have authority to regulate bottled water and also serve to inspect, sample, analyze and approve bottled water sources. Testing laboratory certification is another area where states may regulate bottled water. As part of the IBWA Bottled Water Code of Practice, IBWA members voluntarily utilize the principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) for a science-based approach to bottled water production and safety. FDA recognizes HACCP as a key component of food safety and consumer protection.
“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, IBWA vice president of communications. “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.”