US bottled water sales and consumption continue to rise, as consumers increasingly choose bottled water over other beverages, according to figures out this week.

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), in conjunction with Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), yesterday (9 April) released bottled water statistics for the year 2006 showing that total bottled water volume in the country exceeded 8.25bn gallons. The figure represents a 9.5% increase over 2005.

The 2006 bottled water per capita consumption level reached 27.6 gallons, increasing by over two gallons from 25.4 gallons per capita the previous year. 

Additionally, the wholesale dollar sales for bottled water exceeded US$10.8bn in 2006, an 8.5% increase over the $10bn in 2005.

"While all beverages have their role in a marketplace with an abundance of drink choices, consumers are choosing bottled water as a refreshing, hydrating beverage and as an alternative to others that may contain calories, caffeine, sugar, artificial colours, alcohol or other ingredients, which they wish to moderate or avoid," said Stephen Kay, IBWA vice president of communications. "For instance, during 2006, individual servings of bottled water in sizes of 1.5 litres and smaller accounted for 57.1% of the volume of bottled water sold, indicating that consumers are choosing bottled water in lieu of other bottled drinks."