Environment Scores a Big Win as Bottled Water Sales Fall
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Years of work by pressure groups and a growing awareness by the public has help expose the bottled water industry's true colors as sales this year show.
Bottled water sales are expected to slow to a trickle this year, and producers are blaming everything from the parched economy to the kitchen sink.
"There's a free substitute called tap water, which doesn't exist for snacks," Indra Nooyi, chairman and chief executive of PepsiCo Inc., told analysts recently about slackening sales in liquid refreshment beverages, a broad category that includes sodas, juices, bottled water and ready-to-drink teas.
Sales volume for bottled water is expected to grow a scant 2.3 percent this year, said Gary Hemphill, managing director of Beverage Marketing Corp., a research firm in New York.
That would be the slowest growth rate since 1991 and about a fifth of the nearly 12 percent boost the industry had in 2002.
Pepsi is not the only bottled water company hurting. Their competitor Nestle is in similar shape. It never feels good to hear about anyone losing their jobs, but after all Nestle has done to rural communities, it seems the company is getting a little pay back.
Calistoga's largest employer, the Calistoga Beverage Co., is slashing more than 75 percent of its work force because of sluggish sales of bottled water and a decision to shift production to plants in Southern California, the company said Friday.
This week, parent company NestlÃ© Waters gave layoff notices to 80 workers at the bottling plant on the east side of Calistoga, namesake for the iconic brand founded in 1924. On Monday, Calistoga Beverage will employ just 24 workers at its Napa Valley production facility.
My heart does go out to those folks who lost their jobs, but in the fight against bottled water companies and their mining of rural groundwater and environmental waste, this is may single a changing tide for the better.
Tara Lohan is a managing editor at AlterNet.