Says Jo Jacobius, Director, British Bottled Water Producers.
The clearest, most natural and certainly one of the simplest products on the grocery shelves today has to be bottled water. The sector used to be simple albeit small, at only 420m litres sold in the UK during the whole of 1990. Now it is undoubtedly larger, with sales standing at over 2 billion litres a year, but something has muddied these cool, clear waters.
Of course, consumers are confused. They came to understand that they needed 8 glasses of water a day for optimum health – a view promulgated by the media. Then the media, egged on by a (now discredited) politician, decided to attack the Industry and created a climate of cynicism. It was odd that a Government Minister led the charge.
Let’s examine some of these odd facts. You see, in times of drought and other crises, the mains water companies depend on bottled water to get them through and fulfil their public obligations.
At a time when preserving rural manufacturing companies should be paramount, it is curious that politicians knock a sector dominated in the UK by small companies that, whilst small, are very important employers in often remote rural areas.
No-one was ever arrested for binge drinking bottled water yet at a time of major alcohol abuse the Government chose to treat water as if the Industry was feeding alcopops to toddlers. This product doesn’t contribute to obesity or tooth decay which I consider to be a good thing, at a time when even children are suffering Type II Diabetes and other weight related illnesses.
And because each clear, natural water must by law come from a protected source, this is an industry that operates to protect swathes of British countryside at a time when most people are keen to preserve our green and pleasant land. Finally, we find it strange that our sector is attacked over packaging when other (much larger) drinks and food sectors are not.
Odd as I said.
Increasingly, consumers care about the origins, provenance and content of the food and drinks that they buy. Despite the best efforts of some anti-water brigade members, sales of British waters as a proportion of the total have increased rising to nearly three quarters (73% of all bottled water sales in the UK.
Imported waters in 2008 accounted for just 27% of the total, down from 32% since 2005, when our British Bottled Waters campaign was first conceived. Make no mistake, bottled water is a healthy and refreshing alternative to other packaged drinks not an alternative to tap water.
Natural Mineral Waters and Spring Waters are essentially ‘natural’ and this wholesomeness is guaranteed and required by law. Bottled waters thus provide a unique and precious means to better health and for those people concerned to buy natural products and at the same time minimise food miles, British waters are a perfect choice.
Bottled water firms are proud of their eco-stance with many working continuously on improvements to packaging, reduced energy use, recycling, minimising transport impact as well as tree-planting and organic land management.
As with all natural produce, the success of companies in the bottled water sector is reliant on the quality of their water source land and resource management is crucial. The very nature of the product obliges companies to operate in a clean, green and sustainable way in order to be successful.
So, we asked ourselves, why the vendetta? We decided to try to put a stop to the nonsense and make bigger efforts to redress the balance by setting up British Bottled Water Producers.
We don’t think that survival depends on being the biggest; but we do think that there is strength in numbers.
So we call on all smaller British companies with bottled water interests to swell that voice and join British Bottled Water Producers – the lone voice representing smaller, British suppliers. If you run a bottled water company, join us and your company could have a healthier future as a result. For details call 020 8347 8206 or visit www.britishbottledwater.org
You should stock British bottled water because it is:
good for the environment (cuts down on food miles);
good for the countryside (stewardship of the countryside is key as water sources must be pollution-free);
good for health (known provenance, free of unwanted chemicals and with guaranteed content); and
good for rural, local jobs.
Jo Jacobius is Director of British Bottled Water Producers. She has worked with the bottled water sector for 13 years.
For details call 020 8347 8206 or visit www.britishbottledwater.org