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Press Release: Bottled Water, Unbowed by the Covid-19 Crisis, Grows Again in 2020, Data from Beverage Marketing Corporation Show




Growth quickened in 2020

New York, NY, May 2021: Bottled water, the biggest beverage category by volume in the United States, enlarged again in 2020, and it did so at a faster rate than in 2019. Total bottled water volume grew from almost 14.4 billion gallons in 2019 to 15.0 billion gallons in 2020, an increase of 4.2% (compared to 3.7% the previous year).

Other than two relatively small declines in 2008 and 2009 — when most beverage categories contracted due to that period's financial crisis — bottled water volume grew every year from 1977 to 2020. 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. Confronted with another crisis in 2020, bottled water experienced increased demand, especially early on in the pandemic in the second quarter, when consumers stocked up on what they considered essential goods.

Consequently, per capita consumption surpassed 45 gallons in 2020, while average intake of carbonated soft drinks (the former number-one category) dipped to about 35 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 2020s.

"Bottled water had already demonstrated the appeal of essential qualities like affordability, portability and convenience," observes Michael C. Bellas, chairman and CEO, Beverage Marketing Corporation. "The covid-19 pandemic showed how consumers have come to depend on bottled water for healthy, calorie-free hydration and refreshment."

Single-serving sizes became the most popular bottled water option, accounting for the majority of the category's volume. In 2020, the single-serve segment enlarged more than 4% to almost 10.5 billion gallons. Yet most other segments, including 1- to 2.5-gallon multi-serve, sparkling water and imports, also registered growth in 2020. Indeed, domestic sparkling water advanced at a double-digit rate, and imports outperformed the overall market, though both still claimed comparatively small shares of volume. (Home- and office-delivery provided the exception. Volume in this segment dipped, largely as a result of more people working from home during the pandemic, resulting in fewer workplace accounts being serviced.)

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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