US bottled water sales continued to rise last year, with per capita consumption reaching 29.3 gallons (133 litres), almost two gallons more than 2006.

Figures released by the Virginia-based International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) earlier this week showed that total volume in the country last year increased by 6.9% to 8.8bn gallons, with wholesale dollar sales rising in excess of US$11.7bn, a 7.8% increase.

The 50-year-old bottled water trade group attributed the growth to several factors, most notably consumer recognition of bottled water as healthy, safe, convenient and relatively inexpensive.

The group also foresees bottled water becoming the largest beverage category by volume within five to seven years, surpassing carbonated soft drinks, as concern about obesity in the country intensifies.