Published: Mon, March 13, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Industry tracker: Bottled water overtakes soda in US

Bottled water sales have surpassed carbonated soft drinks for the first time in history.

What's more, Americans who regularly drink sugar-sweetened beverages-say, a can of soda per day-were 46 percent more likely to develop prediabetes than those who drank less or no sugary drinks, a Tufts study found.

During 2016, bottled water became the No. 1 drink in terms of volume, which has taken two decades to be accomplished.

Over the four decades since Perrier water was first launched in the United States, bottled water consumption has grown by 2,700%, to 11.7 billion gallons during 2015 from just 354 million gallons back in 1976, showed data from the International Bottled Water Association.

This consumption trend reflects a shift in the public's acceptance of bottled water, said BMC's chief executive officer Michael Bellas.

The changing dynamics have reshaped beverage marketing.

The average American consumed 39.3 gallons of water in 2016 compared to 38.5 gallons of soda, which feels better but not by much.

Another industry tracker, Beverage Digest, also reported that in 2017 the amount of bottled water consumption would beat the carbonated soft drinks again. "Since resuming growth in 2010, bottled water volume has consistently enlarged at solid single-digit percentage rates", he added.

Though this raises concerns for whether Americans are efficiently recycling the materials used to package bottled water, the report offers hope for tackling the surging obesity rate countrywide. They included PepsiCo, which opted to run a spot for its new Lifewtr brand instead of its flagship cola. "As the ultimate portable and affordable beverage, bottled water spawned new usage occasions and habits". But that cost was artificially deflated by including gallon and multi-gallon jugs, even though two-thirds of bottled water is sold in single-serve bottles, where the cost of a gallon of bottled water could be nearly 2,000 times that of a gallon of tap water.

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