New "Bottled Water in the U.S." report offers current data on the second largest beverage category
The U.S. bottled water market continues to grow, the latest edition of Beverage Marketing Corp.'s “Bottled Water in the U.S.” shows. The sort of growth that saw bottled water double its size in less than a decade and become the second largest beverage category by volume while still outperforming other major beverage types no longer characterizes the vigorous category. Nevertheless, it continues to get bigger.
Despite the sort of slowdown in growth typical of what has become a firmly established, mainstream beverage type, bottled water still scaled new heights in both volume and sales. In 2007, total U.S. bottled water volume approached 8.8 billion gal, a 6.1% advance over 2006's volume level. The growth measured in 2007 was the slowest since the early 1990s. The last time volume enlarged by less than 7% was in 1992, when the market moved by 5.7%. Just two years after reaching $10 billion for the first time, industry wholesale sales topped $11.5 billion in 2007. The U.S. bottled water market's wholesale dollars increased at a higher rate than volume in 2007.
U.S. residents now drink more bottled water annually than any beverage other than carbonated soft drinks. While soft drinks still have higher volume and average intake levels, the soda market has been struggling recently—in no small part because of competition from bottled water. Bottled water consumption was 29 gal per person in 2007. The gap between the two top categories is narrowing as bottled water advances, and soft drinks either barely grow, as was the case in recent years, or decline, as occurred in 2005, 2006 and 2007. In each year since the start of the 2000s, average intake of bottled water grew by at least one gallon—and frequently by much more. Per capita consumption of soft drinks has dipped slightly for several consecutive years.