Spotlight on Asia: What to watch in bottled water

Asia Pacific gulps up bottled water market share

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

China is the biggest market for bottled water; while India comes in at 6th place (volume)
China is the biggest market for bottled water; while India comes in at 6th place (volume)

Related tags: Bottled water, India

Asia Pacific continues show strong growth in the bottled water market: taking an increasing share of global volumes.  

The region is still building significant volume share: while it took a 35% share of the global bottled market in 2011; this had risen to 41% in 2015, according to Zenith International.

Bottled water consumption per capita in the region is still relatively low; but double digit growth has been witnessed over the last five years. This is a contrast to markets like North America and Western Europe, with high per capita consumption but much more constrained growth.  

At Zenith’s Global Bottled Water Congress in Lisbon last week, the spotlight was put on two huge Asian markets for beverages and bottled water: India and China.

India: Zinc on the agenda

Vikram Grover, business head for water at Tata Global Beverages, India, said consumer trends in the country are similar to those seen elsewhere.

Health and wellness are paramount, while Western innovation and products are also gaining attention.

It’s almost a cliché to say in developing countries, more and more consumers spend time on the go,” ​he said. “That’s especially true in India. Beverage consumption in India is primarily on the go.

“Income levels are going up, people are seeing money for the first time. Therefore they’re extremely value conscious, affordable price is absolutely critical.”

The Indian market can be divided into groups of consumers: globals (those who want consumer brands); the middle class; and ‘the next billion’ (those rising up out of poverty and entering the consumer market).

Grover highlighted the opportunities for growth at the two extremes of the market – and how Tata’s products are targeting these consumers’ demands.

While the group of ‘globals’ may be the smallest of the three groups, it is predicted to reach 60m people by 2020 (nearly the equivalent of the current population of the UK).

For such consumers, Tata has its Himalayan water brand: a source water from 400m below the surface, in the foothills of the Shivalik range of the Himalayas. 

For ‘the next billion,’ it offers Tata Water Plus: a beverage which aims to tackle the hidden hunger of micronutrient deficiencies.

“What we have tried to create here is a water which is fortified with micronutrients,” ​said Grover. “In this case, we have it fortified with zinc. Fortification with zinc is on the agenda in large number of countries around the world, because it enhances immunity status of the population.”

China: the importance of purity

China is the number one consumer of bottled water by volume in 2015, overtaking the US which held the top spot 10 years ago. 

Furthermore, the packaged water market has enjoyed rapid growth of 15% CAGR from 2008 – 2014 (volume), with high single figure growth still predicted for the coming years.

Sonny Wong, executive director of Tibet 5100 Water Resources Holdings, China, believes premium waters will grow, with consumers ready to pay for more expensive water.

Water pollution is a big issue in China: and consequently consumers place importance on the purity of bottled water and source water.

“It is very necessary for water companies to tell consumers the water they sell is very clean and good for health.

“In major cities, the middle class is now talking about drinking water only from packaging. They’re moving away from tap water.”

Tibet 5100, for example, has positioned itself as a premium brand, sourced from a high altitude glacial spring in the Nianqing Donggula Mountains in Tibet, at 5,100 metres. 

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