Bottled Water: More than just sales growth

Beverage Marketing Corp.'s recently released its 2004 bottled water statistics, which show a continued upward trend in consumption of the nation's No. 2 beverage. This success, asserts the International Bottled Water Association, is based on stringent federal, state and industry standards to help ensure safety, quality and good taste...

By Bridget B. Wells

ALEXANDRIA, VA, April 25, 2005 -- Newly released statistics by Beverage Marketing Corp. show U.S. bottled water sales and consumption continuing to rise, as consumers increasingly choose bottled water over other commercial beverages. This upward trend was reflected in 2004 bottled water volume of nearly 6.8 billion gallons, an 8.6% increase over 2003, and a 2004 bottled water per capita consumption level of 23.8 gallons, compared to 22.1 gallons per capita the previous year.

These statistics demonstrate continued consumer demand and appreciation for the convenience and good taste of bottled water brands consumed on-the-go, during exercise, at restaurants or meetings, and at home or the office. Consumers, however, should also know that bottled water safety and quality result from multiple layers of regulation and standards at the federal, state and industry levels.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates bottled water as a packaged food product with stringent standards for safety, quality, production, labeling, and identity. State governments also regulate bottled water and, for members of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), the industry requires additional standards through the IBWA Model Code, which are verified through annual, unannounced plant inspections by an independent, third-party organization.

Along with FDA's Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), which are required of all foods, bottled water must comply with several other applicable regulations, including Standards of Identity, Standards of Quality and additional, specific bottled water GMPs. Being a packaged food product, bottled water is also bound by the Nutrition Labeling Education Act (NLEA) and the full range of FDA protective measures designed to enforce product safety and protect consumers. States also have authority to regulate bottled water and also serve to inspect, sample, analyze and approve bottled water sources. Testing laboratory certification is another area where states may regulate bottled water. As part of the IBWA Model Code, IBWA members voluntarily utilize the principles of HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) for a science-based approach to bottled water production and safety. FDA recognizes HACCP as a key component of food safety and consumer protection.

"While all beverages have their role in a marketplace with an abundance of drink choices," says Stephen R. Kay, IBWA vice president of communications, "consumers are choosing bottled water as a refreshing, hydrating beverage and as an alternative to others that may contain calories, caffeine, sugar, artificial colors, alcohol or other ingredients, which they wish to moderate or avoid."

For an overview of bottled water regulations and standards and other bottled water information, visit the IBWA web site at www.bottledwater.org.

For the original Beverage Marketing Corp. news release on this subject (including a statistical breakdown), see: "Bottled water strengthens position as No. 2 beverage, reports Beverage Marketing".

For a list of the top 100 beverage companies, see: www.bevindustry.com/content.php?s=BI/2004/06&p=11.

About the Author: Bridget B. Wells is communications manager for the International Bottled water Association (IBWA), which is based in Alexandria, Va. Founded in 1958, IBWA's membership includes U.S. and international bottlers, distributors and suppliers. IBWA is committed to working with the FDA, which regulates bottled water as a packaged food product, and state governments to set stringent standards for safe, high quality bottled water products. In addition to FDA and state regulations, the Association requires member bottlers to adhere to the IBWA Model Code, which mandates additional standards and practices that in some cases are more stringent than federal and state regulations. A key feature of the IBWA Model Code is an annual, unannounced plant inspection by an independent, third party organization. Contact: 703-647-4607 or bwells@bottledwater.org.

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