Beverage & Wine

Bottled water sales sparkle in the US in a boost for Italian brands

As sales of flavored water reach record levels, an opportunity for exports

Flavored bottled water is gradually replacing high-sugar carbonated drinks in the refrigerators of American consumers increasingly concerned about their health but who do not renounce to taste, a new research by Mintel shows.

The calorie-conscious trend, which is giving a new fizz to the beverage industry of the world’s biggest economy, is an opportunity for Italian beverage groups which have bottled spring waters for decades and are innovating and exporting their healthy drinks.

Sales of bottled water increased 6.4 percent to top 15 billion dollars in 2015, according to Mintel. The research firm expects sales to keep rising at a rapid pace through 2020, with projected growth of 34.7 percent, including 75.1 percent growth for the sparkling, mineral water, and seltzer segment.

TAPPING INTO THE US MARKET – Export-driven Italian beverage groups like Sanpellegrino, part of Nestle Waters and owner of brands such as Acqua Panna, Levissima and Vera, are a leading player in the US bottled water market. The carbonated S.Pellegrino water is a must in the menus of high-end Italian restaurants. Cans and bottles of S.Pellegrino orange and lemon drinks can also be found in US retailers. Founded 60 years ago, Veneto-based group San Benedetto, which already exports its low-sodium water in over 80 countries, has recently said it is considering new distribution agreements in the “horeca” channel in the United States.

VITAMIN-ENANCHED, ZERO CALORIES DRINKS – If flavored water is preferred to high-sugar drinks by half (48 percent) of bottled water drinkers, with the highest share among 18-34 year-old consumers, interest is also strong for “functional” vitamin-enhanced water, according to Mintel. GMO-free and organic water is also on demand. Despite price being a key purchasing factor, over half of bottled water drinkers (53%) say they prefer to drink premium brands.

By Antonella Ciancio

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