Aug 14, 2009

Bottled Water Sales Fall for First Time in Five Years

Economic and environmental concerns affecting the market

Sales of bottled water have fallen for the first time in at least five years, and Nestle, which sells a variety of brands including Poland Spring, Deer Park, S. Pellegrino and Perrier, reported a 2.7% drop in profits for the first half of the year, according to The Washington Post.

"It's an obvious way to cut back," said Joan Holleran, director of research for market research firm Mintel. "People might still be buying bottled water, but you can bet that they're refilling those bottles."

In 2008, according to Mintel, bottled water was the third most poplar beverage in America, only trailing milk and soda.

Bottled water was the only sector in Nestle's food and beverage group to post a decline in global sales during the first half of the year, down because of weakness in the U.S. and Western Europe.

Jeff Cioletti, editor-in-chief of trade publication Beverage World, doesn't believe bottled water will return to its former growth rate soon.

"There were sort of a lot of headwinds," Cioletti said.

The economic downturn combined with campaigns by environmentalists may be taking a toll.

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