Bottled water may replace coffee and tea as the second largest beverage product category behind soft drinks by 2004, according to estimates in a recent report. And a key factor in the growth of the sector has been health concerns over tap water.

The report, called The U.S. Market for Bottled and Enhanced Water by packaged Facts, states that consumer fears about arsenic levels in the water supply, as well as concerns about municipal water purification programs, have created the publicly held perception that tap water is unsafe.

The report also pinpoints portability as a growth factor in the market. It says the health benefits of drinking water have been well publicised in recent years and more and more people are making it a habit to stay well-hydrated during the day, making bottled water a constant companion, and, in some cases, a fashion accessory.

"Consumer awareness is driving this market on many different levels,'' said Meg Hargreaves, vice president of research publishing for "The public has questions about the quality of public water supplies and we are attuned to health and hydration issues. Drinking bottled water is an easy and convenient way to deal with both these concerns.''

To view related research reports, please follow the links below:-

Bottled Water: The International Market
Packaged Water - United States: Annual Report