Plain ol’ water, nature’s original soft drink, is on the verge of breaking the country’s obsession with soda.
Bottled water has emerged as the unlikely drink of choice for a society that’s long opted to guzzle sugar-sweetened beverages. A new report from Beverage Marketing found that bottled water consumption grew 120% between 2000 and 2015.
That rapid rise has occurred as carbonated beverages have slowly fallen out of favor, going down 16% in the same time period. Increasing concerns over the health impacts of high-sugar beverages and the general trend toward diets filled with more natural food and drinks have helped push bottled water toward the top of the pack.
But it’s not just replacing carbonated beverages. Bottled water, both sparkling and still varieties, has become an alternative for juice, tap water and even alcoholic drinks, says Michael Bellas, CEO of Beverage Marketing.
“Water is both a tap water replacement and a refreshment beverage,” he says. “It was really one of the very first beverages to start to be consumed for health reasons.”
Water consumption has also risen because water is so versatile, not relegated to breakfast like orange juice or to exercise, like sports drinks. “Bottled water is the only beverage that is consumed all day long,” Bellas says.