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CHICAGO -- Bottled water is making a comeback after weathering the recession over the past few years.
As reported by Beverage Industry, the bottled water category overall increased 2 percent, generating $7.8 billion in sales for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 7 in gas and convenience stores, supermarkets, drugstores, and mass-merchandise outlets, according to new data released by the SymphonyIRI Group, based in Chicago. (The figure excludes Walmart.)
During the same timeframe, still bottled water sales rose 1.7 percent to hit $6.5 billion in sales, while bulk water sales remained flat at more than $853.3 million. Sparkling bottled water increased 11.8 percent for $437.7 million in total sales in the measured channels, according to SymphonyIRI.
"In 2010, [sales] have been quite flat, and of course the recession is one of the reasons, but the other reason is because the category has become highly promotional where we see frequent price promotions," said Garima Goel Lal, senior analyst at Mintel International. "The other thing is private label has very high market share in bottled water."
The news outlet also reported that private label still bottled water is the top-selling bottled water and accounts for 15.5 percent of the market share in SymphonyIRI's measured channels. In the 52 weeks ended Aug. 7, private label still bottled water rose almost 4 percent to reach $1 billion in sales, according to SymphonyIRI. During that same time period, private label bulk water accounted for 39 percent of the segment's market share and remained flat in sales, while private label sparkling bottled water increased nearly 3 percent to claim 24.4 percent of the segment's market share.
"People see very little difference in quality between branded and private label," Goel Lal said. "[Mintel] just did [its] private label report and according to our survey, bottled water is the second biggest product that people see very little difference between the branded and private label products."
In addition to sales increases, earlier this year the International Bottled Water Association, in conjunction with the Beverage Marketing Corp., released 2010 bottled water statistics that showed that overall consumption of bottled water has increased by 3.5 percent, according to Beverage Industry.
Mintel's Goel Lal told the news site that the main growth factor for the convenience still bottled water segment will be enhanced waters, which have done well.