- Beverage Marketing Corporation said that bottle water surpassed carbonated soft drinks in 2016 to become the largest beverage category by volume in the U.S., according to a release from the organization.
- Last year, total bottled water volume increased from 11.8 billion gallons in 2015 to 12.8 billion gallons, growth of approximately 9%. This marked the third year in a row of accelerating growth.
- Aside for the years 2008 and 2009, bottled water volume increased every year from 1977 to 2016. This span included 17 double-digit annual volume growth spurts.
The Beverage Marketing Corporation reported that the continued increase in per capita consumption of bottled water proves that consumers view it as a healthy alternative to other packaged beverages.
Soda consumption has been seeing decreases for more than a decade, and in 2015 the gap between the two was as close as it’s ever been, so it wasn’t much of a surprise that bottled water overtook it. This milestone was projected last summer; the numbers are in now to vindicate it.
Beverage analysts say one of reasons for the growth in the segment is a variety of new offerings in the category. These include vitamin and oxygen-infused brands, sparkling items, flavored brands, and beverages that focus on kids or athletes.
With manufacturing giants like Nestlé, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola expanding bottled water flavor lines, the flood of new products is not expected to stop anytime soon. PepsiCo even had a big promotional push for its LIFEWTR product during the Super Bowl.
While this category is popular, other companies are trying to shift the market for a drink in a polluting plastic bottle that many people can get for free at home. There are some possible pitfalls to bottled water sales in the future. SodaStream, which markets itself as an eco-friendly home water carbonator, is steadfast with its promotional campaign targeting the packaging waste from single-serve water bottles called "Shame or Glory." The company's numbers continue to climb, with SodaStream increasing its year-over-year operating income in the fourth quarter by 206% last year.
Boxed water, which markets itself as a more earth-friendly alternative, is also a trend that’s starting to make some noise. Some predicting it could cut into bottled water bottle as soon as next year.