An Overview of Bottled Water

Today Looks at Consumer Choices

Today food editor, Phil Lempert, reported on consumer habits with bottled water–why they make the choices they do and how much they are spending.

Last year, according to the Beverage Marketing Corp., manufacturers sold more than $7.7 billion worth of bottled water in the United States, an increase of 12.3 percent from 2001. The average U.S. consumer drank 21 gallons of bottled water, about 11 percent more than in 2001.

According to the Quick Polls, 31 percent of (those online users) say they buy bottled waters because they taste better and 19 percent report that home tap water is "bad." Only 5 percent report that they buy bottled water out of concern for food safety. Not one person said he bought bottled water for "status" or because they "liked imported waters."

The trend has changed and the bottled water industry now delivers better flavors. 68 percent of Today's consumer panel respondents said they were already into the trend and buying flavored waters. The number-one reason people purchase bottled water was because it is easier to drink, which tied with it helps to promote drinking more water. Only 23 percent say that they actually like the flavor–highlighting a huge opportunity for the water companies.

AC Nielsen reports that the fastest growing waters are those that are flavored, a rise of 50.7 percent in dollars and 30.3 percent in units. Enhanced waters–described as waters that contain additional benefits like vitamins or fitness benefits–have grown from just $20 million in sales three years ago to over $245 million in 2002.

Adding a flavor to water really does seem to make a difference in the amount of water we consume. A 1997 report published in International Journal of Sports Nutrition found that in 52 healthy nonsmoking adults, who exercised 30 minutes two to four times a week, drinking flavored water actually increased fluid consumption by 20 percent.

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Source:, <I>The Today Show

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