Bottled Water Demand Beginning to Empty Out

The once-booming bottled water market has begun to decline.


Like an empty bottle in a recycling bin, demand for bottled water appears to have drained: Both the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post are reporting that the country's largest seller of bottled water, Nestle, has reported a decline of almost 3 percent in its bottled water division (which includes Pellegrino, Poland Spring and Perrier and Deer Park) for the first half of the year. As usual, the recession is to blame.

But penny-pinching consumers who have discovered the money-saving benefits of reusable water bottles aren't the only source of the slowdown. Analysts also credit the decline to environmentalists' campaigns, such as Take Back the Tap and TapIt, to encourage consumers to avoid bottled water. Their encouragement has also led cities from Takoma Park, Md. to San Francisco to cut bottled water out of their budgets, to the tune of up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Just this week, the Guardian called out the BBC for spending more than $600,000 per year on bottled water.

If mainstream bottled water companies are struggling, that doesn't bode well for niche bottlers, who market pricier bottled waters as though they were rare vintages of wine (remember the water sommelier micro-trend? No?). Same goes for the opposite of the water sommelier, Tap'd NY, which bottles local New York City water straight from the tap.

Have you cut back on buying bottled water this year?


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