Las Vegas — America's love affair with bottled water continues unabated.
And it continues at the expense at carbonated soft drinks. But that beverage category appears to be stabilizing after more than a decade of plunging consumption.
Bottled water consumption, mostly in single-serve PET bottles, increased by a projected 5.1 percent in 2018, according to new numbers from Gary Hemphill, managing director at Beverage Marketing Corp.
Hemphill has made it a tradition of unveiling a detailed analysis of the U.S. beverage consumption market by his consulting and research firm each year at the Packaging Conference.
This time around, in Las Vegas, he told conferencegoers that carbonated soft drink consumption fell by a projected 0.3 percent last year. That compares with a decrease of 1.3 percent in 2017.
"The typical trends we've seen remain the same. Carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) continue to be soft. Their performance continues to be sluggish. They performed a little bit better in 2018, but probably not enough to go positive, at least not yet in terms of growth," Hemphill said.
"Bottled water continues to be on a growth juggernaut since the early 1990s, widening its gap as the largest category above CSDs," he said.
CSDs and bottled water rely on PET packaging for distribution. CSDs, obviously, also utilize aluminum cans and are served as fountain beverages.
Hemphill told the crowd bottled water consumption's "share of thirst" has increased from 16.5 percent in 2013 to 22 percent last year.
Helping push bottled water consumption higher is the overall interest in more healthy beverages as well as bottled water's continued decrease in cost.