• Asia to thank for slight lift in bottled water sales in 2009
  • US hinders North America, thanks to anti-bottled water measures
  • Spain, France also drag, for Western Europe
Cheers to Asia in 2009

Cheers to Asia in 2009

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Both Western Europe and North America are expected to have dragged bottled water sales downward last year, according to recent research.

A report from beverage industry information firm Canadean has forecast that the worldwide market for bottled water in 2009 is expected to come in up slightly, by around 2% on 2008.

North America, however, dropped from double digit growth in 2008 into decline last year. A combination of consumers switching to filtered tap water and concerns over the environmental impact of bottled water have triggered the downturn in sales in the region, the report notes.

In the US, some government offices are banning packaged water from government offices and events while various other states are attempting to add bottled water taxes. North America accounts for 18% of global sales and the performance here is harming the overall global picture; in 2009, without North America, the global water market was forecast to increase by a healthier 4%.

Meanwhile, Western Europe, which accounts for nearly 30% of world volumes, is also set for negative 2009 results. Spain and France, two of the region's biggest markets, are responsible for much of these losses. In Spain, the slump in on-premise sales can be blamed for the extent of the projected losses as the recession keeps consumers at home. In France, three factors have affected consumption; environmental (packaging and transport), tap water campaigns and economic issues related to the price of mineral water.

Asia, however, will again be the main global driver for bottled water in 2009, with China forecast to boost the regional and global performance.

Canadean's Quarterly Beverage Tracker suggests that the Chinese water category jumped by 18% in the third quarter of last year and is set for another big increase in volumes. The market has been aided by hot weather in certain important parts of China and intense price competition which has kept prices low.

"There remains plenty of slack in the Asian market with per capita (consumption of bottled water) two-and-a-half times less than the global average," the report says.

While Asia has helped the bottled water category to ride out the worst of the global recession, Canadean's consultants do not expect the pre-recession growth rates to return. The company expects the water market to settle back down to a growth rate of 5% after 2009, a marked slowdown on the 7% seen in 2007 or the 9.5% jump in 2006. That said, Canadean also says that it anticipates every region in the world to be registering water growth in 2010.