Opinion from global food and drink experts, Zenith Global

On the night of Wednesday 21 October, the 2015 Global Bottled Water Awards were presented during a gala dinner at the iconic Myriad Hotel in Lisbon, Portugal.

The Awards were a highlight of Zenith’s 12th Global Bottled Water Congress, organised in conjunction with media partners BeverageDaily.com, Beverfood and the International Bottled Water Association.

There were over 100 entries from 22 countries, demonstrating novelty in 11 categories including packaging and design, marketing, sustainability and community initiatives.

The international judging panel recognised products and concepts that push the boundaries of innovation and offer measurable benefits to consumers and the environment, setting high standards for the global packaged water industry.

What the Award winners had to say…

“I was delighted that Nestlé Waters won two awards in such an important contest, which rewards the best achievements in the bottled water industry. That was a clear recognition of the success of our work to create value for the whole category.”

Paolo Sangiorgi, Senior Vice President- European Markets, Nestlé Waters

“It is always nice to learn that other people, especially experts in the field, believe that your product has potential. I am glad that I decided to enter the awards.”

Staffan Palsson, Managing Director, CapAble

“I am grateful to the people at Zenith for scouring the globe and finding us. To have an international panel select our effort, out of the many very worthy initiatives that have been nominated, honours both the Philippines and the work we do at Hope.”

Nanette Medved-Po, Founder, Friends of Hope

“This is a great reward for all the effort that has gone into this project. It is an honour to be distinguished among so many good initiatives for our sustainability focus. Congratulations also to the organisers for an amazing Awards night and a great Congress. A big thank you from Coca-Cola HBC Greece and Natural Mineral Water AVRA.”

Panagiota Tempelopoulou, Senior Brand Manager-Avra, Coca-Cola 3E

“We are happy to receive great recognition for our unique and precious water with this award!”

Karline Scheer, Brand Concept Manager, Iceberg Water

“For us the award is very important as it adds credit to our plans and distribution ambitions in 2016 onwards.”

Edward Woolner, Founder and Managing Director, Powerful Water Company


 What the judges had to say…

“The program was well run and there were lots of very creative marketing efforts and products.”

Joseph Doss, President and CEO, International Bottled Water Association

“I was truly fascinated by the level of innovation in the industry. It was great to see all contributions, from long-established companies and newcomers across the world.”

Esther Renfrew, Market Intelligence Director, Zenith International

“The awards were a great showcase of the ideas and innovations in the bottled water category, from natural mineral and spring water brands to functional and flavoured products.”

Rachel Arthur, Reporter, Beverage Daily


For the full list of finalists and winners please click here.


2015 Global Bottled Water Awards

2015 Global Bottled Water Awards

On 20-22 October 2015, Zenith International held the 12th Global Bottled Water Congress in Lisbon, Portugal. This year’s theme was Added Value and the Congress saw some fantastic speakers discussing a range of market developments, issues and innovation. Each presentation and panel discussion was packed with ideas and insights.

The overall message was highly positive. The sector’s growth observed in recent years remains strong and this is forecast to continue. The emerging economies will help drive volume increases, but the sector needs to lead in innovation, technology, packaging and social and environmental responsibility to ensure it provides a product that fits with the opportunity. As one speaker noted, “it is imperative to get occasion, brand, pack, price and channel correct to succeed in each market.”

It would be impossible to discuss all of the topics covered in one post, but below are some of my highlights:

• Bottled water continues to see excellent worldwide growth. It is the largest soft drink sector (excluding tea) and is expected to grow by 7% in 2015.
• South East Asia now consumes one third of the world’s soft drinks. It has a growing middle class (estimated to be 400m) with increasing spending power.
• The industry has to continue to lead on social and environmental responsibility, especially in emerging markets.
• Branding is key. Consumers across all markets, no matter their spending power, want to purchase great brands.
• Social media are making the world more connected and millennials want to discover brands rather than being told what to buy. They look for authentic, local stories.

The Congress finished with an entrepreneur shoot-out, which confirmed that innovation is well and truly alive in the sector. We saw water with the addition of spirulina, water with added vitamins, a new type of sports water as well as improved closure technology. As always, these new concepts sparked debate about how the sector continues to move forward and push boundaries.

Another undeniable highlight of the Congress was the presentation of the 2015 Global Bottled Water Awards at a Gala Dinner, with more than 100 entries from 22 countries. It was fantastic to see such an array of products that continue to innovate and my congratulations go out to all the finalists and winners.

Overall, another fantastic event packed with new ideas and insights. Hope to see you next year!

Simon Johnson- Senior Consultant at Zenith International

For more information on the event, click here


12th Global Bottled Water Congress

12th Global Bottled Water Congress

In March, I wrote about the United Arab Emirates banning bottled water exports; this followed a similar ban in Saudi Arabia. It sounds like it might be spreading. Oman has announced that it is also looking at banning exports of bottled water.

Dr Abdullah bin Ali Al Hinai, Acting Director-General of Industry at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, gave details of the export volumes and short falls via the Oman News Agency*.

There are some interesting numbers here… The Director-General gives figures of 14 million litres of bottled water exported from Oman in 2010. This is just 10% of the volume exported from the UAE in the same year.  I’ve had a quick look at water use in Oman, where the total water use is estimated to be 1.5 billion cubic meters of water every year, increasing to 1.7 billion cubic meters by 2020. So bottled water exports represent just 0.001% of total water use.

Now, I raise this not in defence of an export ban of bottled water, but more to highlight the point that other industries that use significantly greater volumes of water, such as the dairy industry, may be targeted next. Bottled water is an obvious example of water being exported, however the water contained in other products (the virtual water) is much less obvious but may become significantly more important as pressure on resources increases. The consequences of this could be bans on exports of dairy products.

As always, i’ll be watching the next steps very closely.

Dr. Ric Horobin

Water & Environment Director at Zenith International

P.S. I’m sure this and other hot industry topics will be discussed at Zenith International’s upcoming Global Bottled Water Congress taking place from 8th – 10th October in Barcelona.  You can review the Congress and book your place online here.

I’d love to hear your comments and views. follow me on twitter @riczenith.

Alternatively if you’d like to contact me directly regarding how we at Zenith International can help your business email me: rhorobin@zenithinternational.com.

*Source: Times of Oman. You can read the full story here.


A couple of weeks ago, the UAE banned all exports of groundwater from the country. The ban is aimed at protecting the country’s reducing groundwater stocks, clearly a reasonable aim. It has now clarified that this includes bottled waters produced from groundwater sources. This is effective immediately, although the government has given companies six months to comply.

I’ve been looking at this in a bit more detail.

The annual bottled water volume exported from the UAE in 2010 was 140 million litres. Not all of this is from groundwater, but let’s assume it is for now. I wondered what this meant in terms of the overall groundwater abstraction. There are various sources of information on this including from the Food and Agriculture section at the UN and also from the UAE government. Total groundwater abstraction in 2010 was around 2,000,000 million litres. So, the exports of bottled water are 0.007% of total abstraction.

Now, obviously every little bit helps, but I can’t help thinking that the virtual water component of some agricultural products which are exported is orders of magnitude higher. I’ll have a look at some other industries over the next couple of weeks.



News from the Middle East shows the importance of water in the region. The UAE has recently banned the export of groundwater. The full press release is available here.

This comes about after a study by the Ministry of Environment and Water shows a decline in groundwater levels and subsequent depletion of water resources as a result of exports.

Reports from Qatar suggest it is concerned that this will result in rising prices for bottled water, as Saudi Arabia has also stopped exports of water.

I’m unclear from the press release whether this applies to companies using groundwater in beverages that are then exported, but the indications from Qatar are that it will. I’m sure this will become more of an issue in the future.

At Zenith, we collect data on the soft drinks market from all over the world. The data in our 2011 reports got me thinking: what does the predicted growth over the next five years mean in terms of the number of production facilities required to deliver that growth?

We’re predicting that total ready to drink soft drink consumption will increase from 530 billion litres in 2010 to 608 billion litres in 2015, an increase of 78 billion litres, or nearly 15%.

The first point to make is that the growth is not evenly spread across the globe; the high growth rates are in the developing markets of India, China, Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa, but even this is not the full picture. We expect Europe to remain flat or decrease slightly, but predict some growth in North America, probably equivalent in terms of volume to India or China, but from a much higher level of current consumption.

Now, there is spare production capacity in Europe, so new factories are unlikely there. I suspect we’ll see replacement and upgrading in that part of the world. It’s the developing market where the new factories are likely to be built. To give an idea of the scale of development needed to supply an additional 78 billion litres, I did a quick back of the envelope calculation and came up with the following: 78 billion litres over five years is an additional 16 billion litres every year; a big factory might produce more than 500 million litres in a year, a small plant less than 50 million litres.

I guess the average is about 150 million litres. Even allowing for some current spare capacity and new lines installed in existing facilities, this still suggests that something like 50 new beverage factories will be built, globally, every year, for each of the next five years. That’s got to be good news for the equipment suppliers!

Almost every category of food and drink has been criticised at some time or another for particular unwanted consequences.  Few have been spared, from chocolate to potatoes and from wine to milk.

Many products have reduced their fat, salt and sugar content or provided a range of alternatives.  The soft drinks industry went further, by introducing guidelines that restrict advertising to younger consumers, by specifying what products are appropriate in schools and by going beyond legal requirements in labelling.

As bottled water has grown in popularity, it too has become a target.  But bottled water has no health drawbacks for the average consumer and has positive answers to its environmental detractors.  In fact, it can make such a strong contribution to society’s health and wellbeing that I believe the leading companies and associations should join forces to agree a common set of principles and messages about wider goals in a global protocol.

This global protocol should have three key dimensions – public health, environmental impact and social contribution.  The protocol statements under these headings should be regarded as a general call to action.  The idea is that companies should sign up to the protocol as a set of objectives.  They should then seek to implement them over an agreed period of time.

Here is what I think a global protocol should include.

Public health

  • The first task is to adopt the European Food Safety Authority guidelines on hydration as the industry’s standard for healthy hydration.
  • The second is to advocate the acceptance by governments and public health authorities of water as a macro-nutrient, the most important single element in life and in any diet. 
  • The third is to ensure water is a key factor in all national guidelines on a balanced diet, featuring prominently in any summary or visual recommendations.  A good example of this is the healthy hydration glass adopted by the Natural Hydration Council.
  • This approach should then form the basis of an internationally consistent media campaign promoting good hydration for good health.
  • As a target, 5% of any company’s brand or corporate advertising budget should be devoted to industry wide generic messages or scientific research to substantiate them.

Environmental impact

The two major concerns about environmental impact relate to the use of materials and then their re-usability.  No single industry can resolve all the issues affecting consumer choice in a market based economy.  But the bottled water industry can and should do as much as possible.

  • The first environmental step is to put “100% recyclable” on every single bottle of water in PET, glass or other recyclable material.  This offers the simplest message to consumers and demonstrates the industry’s commitment to recycling.
  • The next step is to agree a timetable at the end of which no bottled water would be sold in coloured materials, but only clear glass or PET, to improve the reusability of materials in recycling.
  • The industry should further agree only to use PET compliant plastics in plastic bottles, as some new materials are at risk of jeopardising the effectiveness of recycling facilities.
  • It would also be helpful to set regularly updated benchmarks for best practice in the lightweighting of all materials including bottles, caps, labels and crates etc, so that all companies can progressively reduce the amount of new material they require.
  • A key immediate environmental priority is to campaign for local and national governments worldwide to adopt kerbside collection of used bottles as the most effective means of creating a sustainable supply chain for high quality recycling and reuse of materials, ideally enabling bottles to be recycled in a closed loop back into new drinks packaging.

Social contribution

Beyond health and the environment, but also closely related, the industry has every reason to reaffirm its wider social commitment and contribution.

  • Industry members are often the largest local employers in remote rural regions, preserving landscapes and aquifers in the most sustainable way for generations to come, and this deserves to be proclaimed in a series of good practice policies.
  • Because of its contribution to public health, no natural water product should be subject to any Value Added Tax or other sales tax.  Water is the most basic and essential ingredient of life.  It should be unthinkable for its consumption to be taxed.
  • At the same time, bottled water companies should resolve to promote all water consumption, including tap water, even though research shows that bottled water is most often consumed in place of other commercial beverages such as hot or soft drinks rather than tap water.
  • As far as possible, the industry should adopt common messaging on all these topics across every medium, from fact sheets and leaflets to online and social networks.
  • Lastly, companies that sign up to this protocol should accept a leadership role in responding to these needs of society, demonstrating a wish to deal with any problems that may be perceived and to be part of the solution to them.

Support for any implementation of such a protocol would improve public health and help tackle obesity, while reducing health service costs and environmental concerns.Consultation within the industry would undoubtedly clarify the goals and refine the details, but I would hope for real progress towards such a protocol by the time of the next Global Bottled Water Congress in Rio de Janeiro on 13-15 September.

This text is also published today in water innovation magazine as the cover story for the May/June 2011 issue.  Go to foodbev.com for further details.

Bottled water is a major global industry sector.  Consumers spent $107 billion on bottled water in 2010.

But how much of our precious natural water resources does it require ?  Wateronline.com reported some revealing figures earlier this month.

The United States uses an average 79.6 billion gallons of groundwater per day.  Agricultural irrigation accounts for most of this – 53.5 billion gallons or 67%.

Spring and artesian bottled waters take up a massive …  0.02%.

Happy World Water Day.