Health concerns continue to drive bottled water sales in the UK as the findings of a new report reveal that sales rose another 11 per cent last year to 1,770 million litres. According to drinks industry analysts Zenith International, the UK bottled water market is now worth £1,000 million (€1.5m).
Despite a slowdown in the economy and poor summer weather, bottled water continued to outperform all other main beverage sectors last year. Still water for everyday use was the main impetus behind the growth, gaining a further 12 per cent in 2002 to reach an overall share of 83 per cent.
"Consumer demand is being driven increasingly by the health properties of bottled water and the merits of proper hydration are now being actively taken on board by schoolchildren as well as adults," commented Zenith research and development director Gary Roethenbaugh.
"The recent media focus on obesity has led many people to reassess their lifestyles and the pure nature of bottled water makes it the ideal beverage for those trying to lose weight.
"Bottled water is increasingly accessible in everyday life, with over 700 million bottles sold in pack sizes designed for consumption on the move and more than 1,500 million cups filled from water coolers in offices, shops and reception areas," he added.
According to Zenith, one of the main developments in the past few months is the increasing presence of Danone and Nestlé, most noticeably in water coolers. "Together, Danone and Nestlé activities accounted for 30 per cent of the bottled water market in 2002," continued Roethenbaugh. "With Danone's acquisition of Nature Springs in January and Nestlé's agreement to acquire Powwow this month, the combined total would advance to 36 per cent.
But despite the strong growth, UK bottled water drinkers are still lagging behind their European counterparts.
"Consumption per person remains way behind the levels witnessed on the continent. We foresee volumes lifting to almost 3,000 million litres in the next five years, implying a continuing annual growth rate of 10 per cent or more," concluded Roethenbaugh.