Industry tracker Beverage Marketing Corp today announced that bottled water had overtaken carbonated soft-drinks in 2016 to emerge as the largest beverage category by volume, in what it described as a "remarkable, decades-long streak of vigorous growth."
Sodas have been the subject of health concerns and consistent targeting by activist groups in recent years, which had lead to taxes on sugary drinks.
Total bottled water volume increased from 11.8 billion gallons in 2015 to 12.8 billion gallons last year, according to Beverage Marketing Corp and on a per capita basis, bottled water consumption exceeded 39 gallons as against 38.5 gallons for soda.
The consumption of carbonated soft-drink per-capita was more than 50 gallons as recently as 2006. According to Beverage Marketing Corp's projections bottled water would hit the 50-gallon mark by the middle of next decade.
"Bottled water effectively reshaped the beverage marketplace," Michael Bellas, chairman-CEO of Beverage Marketing Corp, said in a statement.
"When Perrier first entered the country in the 1970s, few would have predicted the heights to which bottled water would eventually climb. Where once it would have been unimaginable to see Americans walking down the street carrying plastic bottles of water, or driving around with them in their cars' cup holders, now that's the norm."
Coca-Cola Co and PepsiCO, which sell Dasani and Aquafina respectively shared more than a quarter of bottled water revenue last year. In the four decades since Perrier water was launched in the US, bottled water consumption has shot up 2,700 per cent, from 354 million gallons in 1976 to 11.7 billion gallons in 2015, says the International Bottled Water Association.
According to experts, bottled water also serves to assuage fears over possible water contamination, boosting demand for it over the last few decades.