Formats and recycling tackle concerns as UK water drinks approach 4,000 million litres
UK consumption of water drinks rose 7% in 2017 to nearly 4,000 million litres, with a retail value of £3.1bn, while sales of plain bottled water in retail packs increased by 8% to over 3,100 million litres, and volume through bottled water coolers grew a more modest 2% to 310 million litres.
Conversely, sales of flavoured, functional and juicy waters, which increased by 2% in 2016, advanced by 5% in 2017, after more strong branded players entered the market.
Plain bottled water, with average annual consumption of 54 litres per person, strengthened its market dominance in 2017 to account for 87% of total sales.
Zenith chairman Richard Hall said: “Environmental concerns have grown, but are being tackled by lighter bottles with more recycled content and by new packaging formats as well as recycling initiatives.” The top five UK plain water brands – Highland Spring, Evian, Buxton, Nestlé Pure Life and Volvic – are collectively responsible for 30% of total water drinks sales, whilst the top 5 water plus brands – Volvic Touch of Fruit, Calypso Clear, Trederwen Essence, Drench Juicy and Perfectly Clear – account for 5%.
Zenith forecasts that, by 2022, the total market for UK water drinks will reach 5.3 billion litres, 32% above 2017 levels.
Plain bottled water is set to lead this advance, with average growth of 6% per year.
Flavoured, functional and juicy waters are forecast to expand more slowly.
The release of the figures follows a US report which found that 93% of 259 bottles of branded water it tested contained microscopic pieces of plastic.
However, Nestle, The Coca-Coca Company and other bottled water manufacturers responded by noting that microplastics are common in the environment and that their filtering and testing protocols are designed to assure the safety of their products.
Following the Orb Media report, the World Health Organization told the BBC that it planned to assess the current level of research and review how much of a threat, if any, microplastics pose to public health.