Bottled Water Is Most Successful Mass-Market Beverage

In the United States, refreshment beverages have outperformed other beverage categories in recent years.

December 03, 2018

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – With almost 14 billion gallons sold in 2018, bottled water is the most successful mass-market beverage in the U.S. in terms of both revenue and volume, according to a report in Beverage Daily.

During the past four years, bottled water has grown in every sector, with sparkling, carbonated flavored water leading the category, and it’s expected to see more growth in the next few years.

Since 1978, bottled water has grown at a CAGR of 8.9%, which is greater than any other beverage category. Bottled water also gained the most volume over the last 10 years while carbonated soft drinks lost the most.

Bottled water, CSDs, energy drinks, fruit beverages, RTD coffee, RTD tea, sports drinks and value-added water are all considered refreshment beverages, and those drinks have outperformed both traditional beverages (hot coffee, hot tea and milk)—which has been flat—and alcohol in recent years.  

Gary Hemphill of Beverage Marketing Co., speaking at the recent International Bottled Water Association, noted that calorie consumption from refreshment beverages has declined over the last decade, and that is likely to continue as consumers sip more water and zero-calorie drinks, such as Lacroix. Plus, tap water consumption is on the decline. The only exception during the past decade was the period following the 2008 recession when consumers cut back on extraneous food and beverage purchases.

Hemphill added that the single-serve segment of bottled water is considered a refreshment, rather than a replacement for tap water. Consumers with high-end water brand preferences, such as Fiji and Smart Water, are helping purified water outsell spring water.

There are now increased choices in value-added water, including alkaline, plant-based, ph-balanced, essence and protein waters, that are trendy in the health and wellness world.

These value-added launches represent a lot of recent innovation in the category, but none have fully broken through in total volume except for alkaline. Value-added water accounts for just 7% of single-water beverage volume but holds a larger share of revenue due to higher premium pricing.

Hemphill expects the strongest beverage growth in coming years to be bottled water, value-added water, energy drinks and RTD coffee.