Growth in global packaged water outstrips soft drinks

Recent figures released by the European Federation of Bottled Waters (EFBW) show that the global market for packaged water has grown at a faster rate than soft drinks, and will continue to do so until 2022.


According to EFBW, over the past five years (2012 ­ 2017), packaged water grew 5.7 per cent, bulk/HOD water grew by five per cent, and flavoured and enhanced waters grew by 6.4 per cent versus carbonated soft drinks, which shrank 0.2 per cent and JNSDs, which shrank 0.5 per cent.

The growth rates for the next five years (2017 ­ 2022) are expected to come in at 5.9 per cent for packaged water, 5.4 per cent for bulk/HOD water and 4.9 per cent for flavoured and enhanced waters versus 1.3 per cent for carbonated soft drinks and 2.4 per cent for JNSDs.

The EFBW concluded that, globally, carbonated soft drinks, juices and most other soft drinks ­ except for energy ­ are stagnant or in decline. This, as well as the fact that all water categories are growing strongly, is being driven by the health and wellness agenda. However, it pointed out, much of this growth is outside of Europe. Indeed, much has been written about the growth of the packaged water industries in the United States, India, China and other Asian and middle Eastern countries.

In South Africa, the bottled water industry in South Africa is tiny compared to the total beverage market including alcoholic beverage, just 3.8 per cent in 2016. Its total size nationally, not just in the Western Cape, for 2016 was 502-million litres. This annual figure is less than the 520-million litres daily target consumption for the City of Cape Town.

According to BMi Research 2016 figures (2017 figures are not yet available), category shares of the non-alcoholic beverage market are:

  • Sparkling soft drinks – 69.3%
  • Ready-to-drink fruit juice – 11.8%
  • Bottled water – 8.9%
  • Dilutables – 3.7%
  • Energy drinks – 2.8%
  • Mageu – 1.7%
  • Sports drinks – 1.1%
  • Iced teas – 0.9%


While bottled water accounts for just 8,9 per cent of the total non-alcoholic beverage sector, according to South African National Bottled Water Association (SANBWA) Executive Director, Charlotte Metcalf, South Africans are drinking more packaged water. BMi Research figures show that, consumption grew by:

  • 3 per cent in 2012
  • 3 per cent in 2013
  • 3 per cent in 2014,
  • 2 per cent in 2015
  • 3 per cent in 2016

Similarly, the total packaged water market grew by:

  • 5 per cent in 2012
  • 7 per cent in 2013
  • 1 per cent in 2014
  • 2 per cent in 2015
  • 5 per cent in 2016

‘Importantly, this growth has not come at the expense of squandering South Africa’s water reserves,’ she says. ‘This is of major concern to consumers and the hospitality industry during times of drought. Both groups should bear in mind that 90% of bottled water in South Africa is either classified as natural water, water defined by origin, or prepared water.

‘Natural waters are obtained directly from a natural or drilled underground source and bottled near the source under hygienic conditions. Approximately 70 per cent of all bottled water in South Africa is natural water. Waters defined by is water from a specific environmental source, such as a spring, without passing a through community water system. Approximately 20 per cent of all bottled water in South Africa is Water Defined by Origin. Both these categories are audited annually to ensure the source is sustainable and renewable

‘By contrast, prepared water is bottled from a municipal source and approximately 10 per cent of all bottled water in South Africa is prepared water. Identifying which category you are purchasing to serve in your establishment is an important task in the hospitality industry intent on adopting behaviours that do not exacerbate the drought.


‘As an additional precaution, look for the SANBWA seal. The SANBWA seal ensures that the water source is environmentally sustainable. It also ensures that the water is free of chemical contaminants and microbiological impurities such as E.coli and that it has been bottled under hygienic conditions. Finally, it confirms conformance to legislation and international standards and best practise.’