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Press Release: Bottled Water, the Largest Beverage in the U.S., Continues to Grow




Growth slowed somewhat in 2018

New York, NY, May 2019: After having topped carbonated soft drinks to become the largest beverage category by volume in the United States two years earlier, bottled water growth enlarged further in 2018, albeit at a slower rate than in 2017. Total bottled water volume grew from 13.2 billion gallons in 2017 to 13.8 billion gallons in 2018, an increase of almost 5% (comparted to more than 6% in 2017).

Except for two relatively small declines in 2008 and 2009 — when most beverage categories contracted — bottled water volume grew every year from 1977 to 2018. This period included 17 double–digit annual volume growth spurts. Since resuming growth in 2010, bottled water volume has consistently enlarged at solid single–digit percentage rates. As a result, per capita consumption exceeded 42 gallons in 2018, while average intake of carbonated soft drinks slipped to around 37 gallons. At the turn of the century, per capita soft drink consumption regularly exceeded 50 gallons, and Beverage Marketing expects bottled water to reach that level by the middle of the next decade.

The differing developments of the two largest beverage types are significant. "Bottled water's ascent occurred in tandem with, and was largely responsible for, changes in consumer preferences for healthier forms of rehydration and refreshment," explained Michael C. Bellas, chairman and CEO, Beverage Marketing Corporation. "Portable and affordable bottled water aligned perfectly with numerous usage occasions at all times of day. Bottled water emerged as the beverage of choice both for people reducing calories or avoiding artificial sweeteners and for anyone looking for an all-natural refreshment beverage," he added.

Single–serving sizes became the most popular bottled water option, accounting for the majority of the category's volume. In 2018, the single–serve segment enlarged more than 5% to almost 9.7 billion gallons. Yet all other segments, including larger, multi–serving bottles as well as home and office delivery, sparkling water and imports, also registered growth in 2018. Indeed, domestic sparking water advanced at a double–digit rate, and imports outperformed the overall market, though both still claimed comparatively small shares of volume.

Looking forward, Beverage Marketing expects bottled water to lengthen its already considerable record of growth and to put still more distance between itself and the beverage category it surpassed to become the biggest.

New York City–based Beverage Marketing Corporation is the leading research, consulting and financial services firm dedicated to the global beverage industry.


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