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Despite maturity in Europes more established markets, West European bottled water sales flowed faster in 2001, rising by 5 percent to more than 38 billion litres. According to the 2002 West Europe Bottled Water Report from drinks consultancy Zenith International, momentum has been maintained even after a slowdown in Europes economies post September 11th and widespread poor summer weather.
"Bottled water has become a mainstay of Europes soft drinks industry", commented Zenith Research Director Gary Roethenbaugh. "Set to reach an average 100 litres per person this year, bottled water is increasingly the product of choice for Europes beverage consumer."
The largest three markets Italy, Germany and France together account for 72 percent of total volume. All countries saw growth in 2001, but only Ireland and the United Kingdom grew by more than 10 percent. Italy has the highest consumption per person at 168 litres, over ten times the level of Denmark on 16 litres.
Sparkling water is losing ground to still water, which has climbed to a 58 percent share. PET is by far the most popular packaging type on 64 percent, pushing glass down below 30 percent. Natural mineral water retains a share above 80 percent, but spring and other water types have already reached 17 percent.
"It is remarkable how the larger, more mature markets continue to expand where stagnation might be expected", added Gary Roethenbaugh. "Greater consumer awareness of water's health benefits and wider concerns about tap water quality are providing the foundation for bottled water growth. As lifestyles become more hectic, bottled water is increasingly perceived as a calorie free refreshing beverage that is the perfect solution for people on the move."
Ranking the leading national operations, the Zenith report finds that the top 50 had an overall 59 percent volume share in 2001. Nestlé had 7 entries, compared with 6 for Danone, 3 for Coca-Cola then 2 for San Benedetto and Spadel. Castel, Gerolsteiner and Uliveto were the only other companies in the top 10, each with sales above 800 million litres.
Looking to the future, the report forecasts a further 26 percent market growth by 2006,10 billion litres more than in 2001.