One of the most exciting things about the bottled water market is its constant growth and evolution. Over the past two decades, bottled water has become the fastest-growing beverage market in the world; valued at $157 billion in 2013, it is expected to reach a massive $280b by 2020.
There are countless factors behind this global growth, but for Australia the most important to note are the growing middles classes in Asia, as well as relentless drive for product and packaging innovation.
Thinking about packaging innovation, before we look at how the bottled market will change in coming year, you may like to see how packaging improvements help optimise your supply chain…
Now, let’s look at 4 bottled water trends to watch in 2017…
- China is No.1 consumer
The popularity of bottled water continues to grow globally — particularly in Asia, where India and China are two vast markets. Last year, China overtook the USA as the world’s number-one consumer of bottled water, and according to Zenith International, the Asian share of the bottled water market was 41% in 2015, up from 35% in 2011.
What’s the drawcard for bottled water in China? As is the case for many foods and beverages — and particularly Australian ones — it comes down to product purity.
Henry Heng, CEO of Australian bottled water company Refresh Group, earlier this year told Australia’s ABC radio that many Chinese people drank bottled water, but the growing middle class was increasingly leaning towards imported products and didn’t “mind paying a bit more” for them.
- Australians are drinking more bottled water
It’s not only the Chinese who are drinking more bottled water; 5.3 million Australians drank bottled water every week in 2015 according to Roy Morgan Research. This was an increase on 2014, when 4.9 million of us downed bottled water weekly. For those into maths, the 2015 figure represents over 27% of Australia’s population.
The same research revealed that more Australian women (29.7%) are drinking bottled water than men (24.5%). Younger Australians, especially those aged 25 to 34, are more likely to buy bottled water. And of all the states, Western Australians like bottled water the most, with 30.2% of residents drinking the product weekly, compared to Tasmania who drink the least (22.3%).
- Water isn’t just water
Innovation is key to the growing bottled water market. How else will you differentiate your water from that of another brand? In 2016 it became increasingly clear that there are no limits on what water can be, or what consumers are willing to buy.
Established in 1997, Refresh is Australia’s largest producer of distilled drinking water under its brand “Refresh Pure Water”. More imaginatively, the company also produces a “super-oxygenated” water, called “Oxyfresh”, which has Himalayan crystal salt and up to 700% more oxygen than normal water.
Another Australian producer, AquaBotanical, bottles water made from rejected carrots. Former wine industry chemist Dr Bruce Kambouris, based in Mildura, Victoria, developed the product, which is already being served in high-profile Sydney restaurant Gastro Park, where it has replaced established international brands. Last year, this water-made-from-carrots was a finalist in the Global Bottled Water Awards — and it won the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology’s innovation award.
Coca-Cola South Pacific has also launched a new Glaceau-branded water, “Glaceau Fruitdropwater”, exclusively for the Australian market. The low-kilojoule, flavoured sparkling spring water is aimed at health-conscious females aged 30 and above, who Coca-Cola say are looking for refreshing, low-kilojoule beverage alternatives.
- Novelty packaging
Not satisfied with water in a bottle, in 2016 British entrepreneurs launched water in a can. Packaged in a resealable and recyclable aluminium can, “CanO” is designed to provide a healthier, sustainable alternative to plastic bottled water. It’s also further evidence of the market’s relentless demand for novelty — especially in the realm of packaging.
The fact is that packaging innovation is excellent for creating shelf appeal and differentiation in the bottled water market. Even Evian recognises this, because this year the brand made the first major change to its bottle design in 30 years. The French mineral water now comes in a slim, 330ml bottle with a transparent label, which the company says allows consumers to see the purity of its water.
For another really interesting take on bottled water trends and innovation, see what social enterprise Thankyou has done with bottled water in thinking how Australian businesses can get ahead by being different. The company’s co-founder Daniel Flynn was a keynote speaker at Breaking Boundaries LIVE earlier this year and the 2015 event.
Getting the basics right
But no matter how innovative the product or packaging, bottled water won’t go anywhere if it doesn’t meet the basics in coding and labelling.
There are 5 main codes for bottled water processors — or any food & beverage processors — to be aware of:
- Date codes: Either use-by (the day and/or month by which the product must be consumed) or best-before (indicates when the product will begin to degrade from its optimal quality).
- Batch codes: All packages with the same batch number are considered to be the same in all respects (raw ingredients from the same supplier, manufacture time, and so on); this is critical for traceability.
- Identification/traceability codes: These can be in the form of barcodes or alphanumeric codes, and are also used to trace a product through the supply chain; they can be printed on labels that are affixed to the product, or printed or engraved directly onto it. (Here’s a great example of traceability coding.)
- Barcodes: Used to identify food and beverages at product level, or at logistic levels on cartons or pallets. (See our FAQs on barcoding, to help answer any questions you may have.)
- QR codes and promotional codes: QR codes are 2D computer-generated images that can be scanned by smartphones or tablets to generate an action; the biggest benefit is the ability provide extra information to consumers without using up valuable packaging space. (See what makes them so relevant today, as well as some more basic information on what they do.)
Having the correct code applied, without the need for rework, is critical for lean manufacturing processes, which are essential to creating and maintaining a cost-effective supply chain. (You may wish to delve deeper into lean manufacturing here.)
Matthews has a fantastic resource library that includes presentations we’ve done, articles from our thought leaders, whitepapers, case studies, FAQs, brochures, YouTube videos and more. Plus, it’s all free to download!
Photo credit: Freeimages.com/James Meyer