Beverage Marketing Corporation

Latest News

Main Content

Press Release: Bottled Water Volume Growth Slows Again in 2023, Data from Beverage Marketing Corporation Show




Producers' sales growth also moderated somewhat in 2023

New York, NY, May 2024: Bottled water, the largest beverage category by volume in the United States, barely grew in 2023, resulting in an atypical downturn in per capita consumption. Inflation-fueled pricing resulted in sales growing solidly, albeit less rapidly than in the previous year. Despite the slowing growth, the largest beverage category by volume reached new peaks in both producers' revenues and total gallons.

Total bottled water volume edged up by 0.4% in 2023, compared to 1.1% growth in 2022, 4.6% growth in 2021 and 4.1% growth in 2020. Producers' revenues swelled by more than 6%, largely due to higher prices, but this represented slowing compared to 2022, when dollars jumped by nearly 12%.

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 2023. This period included 17 double–digit annual volume growth spurts. Before the sluggishness of 2022 and 2023, bottled water volume consistently enlarged at solid single–digit percentage rates since resuming growth in 2010. 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. Even after pantry–loading abated, demand for bottled water remained strong, as quickening growth in 2021 demonstrated. The category's 2023 growth, while positive, was the weakest since the economic downturn of 2008 and 2009.

With 2023's softness, per capita consumption dipped to 46.4 gallons, down a tenth of a gallon from the year before. This marked the first decrease in average intake since overall volume declined a decade and a half earlier. Nonetheless, per capita bottled water consumption stood nearly 11 gallons higher than average intake of the second largest beverage category, carbonated soft drinks (CSDs). Per capita soft drink consumption of CSDs dipped from 36.3 gallons in 2022 to 35.7 gallons in 2023. 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 end of this decade or the start of the next.

Single–serving sizes stand as the most popular bottled water type, accounting for the majority of the category's volume. In 2023, however, the single–serve segment underperformed the overall bottled category, enlarging by just 0.2% to 11.3 billion gallons. Even so, this represented 71% of total bottled water volume. Some other segments, including home– and office–delivery and self–service refill (vended) water, also grew. Not all of them did, however. While sparkling water and imports frequently outperformed the overall bottled water market in many previous years, they declined in both 2022 and 2023. The 1– to 2.5–gallon multi–serve segment, which experienced something of a boost in 2020 and 2021, also declined in both 2022 and 2023.

"Even in uncertain economic times, bottled water remains consumers' preferred option for a relatively inexpensive, convenient, portable beverage," observes Michael C. Bellas, chairman and CEO, Beverage Marketing Corporation. "Functional benefits that drove bottled water to the number-one position, such as calorie–free refreshment and healthy hydration, will drive its future performance."

Beverage Marketing expects bottled water to see stronger growth ahead, to extend its already long record of volume enlargement, and to put still more distance between itself and CSDs, the beverage category it surpassed to become the largest.

Beverage Marketing Corporation is the leading research firm dedicated to the global beverage industry.


« Back to Latest News