Undercurrents: beneath the obvious

December 9, 2007

The latest for thirsty furry friends: bottled water

Filed under: Bottled Water,Canada — nemo @ 6:00 pm

From the CBC News comes this article regarding new marketing avenues opening up for bottled water:

Bottled water, a staple for the two-legged, is now being aimed at the four-legged market.

Aquience, a Charlottetown, Ontario-based company, recently launched Pet Quench, a water it says addresses a critical need for pets, particularly cats, which are prone to urinary disorders. “Cats are not getting enough liquid in their diet, or not drinking,” company president Derrick Walker said.

“One of the areas that it’s designed for is to induce them to want to drink.”The water contains what the label calls “natural attractant” aimed to make dogs and cats want to drink more of the water. It also has aloe and papaya extract intended to help with digestion.

In the early going, Aquience, which is bottled in Ontario, has reached into markets across the country. The product was developed in Charlottetown, in part with a $50,000 grant from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

Pet Quench is not alone in the market. It’s part of new range of water and water additives aimed at everything from hamsters to horses.

Canadians spend almost $5 billion a year on their pets. Aquience costs $1.79 for a half litre of water.

The water contains “natural attractants” aimed at making dogs and cats want to drink more of it. Not only is the pet water bottled, it apparently is addictive too.

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May 4, 2007

Bottled water trumps milk, nears beer

Filed under: Bottled Water,Great Lakes Issues — nemo @ 9:13 pm

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

For the first time ever, Americans on average drank more bottled water in 2006 than milk, according to an industry newsletter that tracks U.S. beverage sales.

And Americans drank nearly as much bottled water as beer.

If the trend continues, Americans could be drinking more bottled water than tap water within a few years.

Beverage Digest’s figures showed average per capita consumption of bottled water grew from 11 to 21 gallons between 1996 and 2006.

Consumption of milk dropped from 22.7 to 19.5 gallons over the 10-year span, while beer consumption was steady at 21.8.

Soft drink consumption dropped from 52 to 50.9 gallons, according to the figures.

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April 12, 2007

Nestle to buy Gerber for $5.5 billion

Filed under: Bottled Water,Great Lakes Issues,Michigan — nemo @ 11:42 am

From the Associated Press:

Nestle SA, the world’s biggest food and drink company, said Thursday it will buy Gerber Products Co. [Gerber is based in Fremont, Michigan] from pharmaceutical maker Novartis SA for $5.5 billion, giving it the largest share of the global baby food market.

The acquisition helps further Nestle’s recent focus on health and nutrition, following its purchases of the U.S. weight control company Jenny Craig and Novartis Medical Nutrition.

Nestle, which owns brands such as Nescafe, Perrier and Dreyer’s [and Ice Moountain], is also the world’s largest manufacturer of infant nutritional products — largely through its leading positions in developing countries such as Brazil and China — but had no presence in baby food in the United States.

Gerber, which Nestle has coveted for more than a decade, dominates the U.S. baby-food market, with a 79 percent share, according to Morgan Stanley.

With much controversy, Nestle pumps 270 million gallons of water a year from underground springs and from the city of Evart’s municipal water system. The company buys water from Evart and hauls it 40 miles south to its Stanwood bottling plant.

Gerber pumps 1,090 million gallons of water a year from the city of Fremont’s municipal water system — that’s FOUR times Nestle’s use — with nary a complaint.

Evart to the Stanwood bottling plant is 40 miles. Fremont to Stanwood is 35 miles. Map locations of Fremont and Stanwood are here.

Does 35 miles separate Nestle from all its problems? Will Ice Mountain become a brand of Gerber?

See also these prior posts:

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April 11, 2007

U.S. Drank 9.5% More Bottled Water in 2006

Filed under: Bottled Water,Great Lakes Issues — nemo @ 9:27 am

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), in conjunction with Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), released bottled water statistics for the year 2006. From the press release:

These numbers show that U.S. bottled water sales and consumption continue to rise, as consumers increasingly choose bottled water over other beverages.

The latest upward trend was reflected in 2006 when total bottled water volume exceeded 8.25 billion gallons, a 9.5 percent increase over 2005, and the 2006 bottled water per capita consumption level of 27.6 gallons increased by over two gallons, from 25.4 gallons per capita the previous year. Additionally, the wholesale dollar sales for bottled water exceeded $10.8 billion in 2006, an 8.5 percent increase over the $10 billion in 2005. These statistics demonstrate continued consumer demand and appreciation for the convenience and good taste of bottled water brands consumed on-the-go, during exercise, at restaurants or meetings, and at home or the office.

… during 2006, individual servings of bottled water in sizes of 1.5 liters and smaller accounted for 57.1% of the volume of bottled water sold, indicating that consumers are choosing bottled water in lieu of other bottled drinks.

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April 7, 2007

Nestle seeks other water sources in Michigan

Filed under: Bottled Water,Great Lakes News,Michigan — nemo @ 4:28 pm

The Grand Rapids Press has this update on Nestle’s plans for additional bottling plants in Michigan:

A Nestle spokeswoman said Friday no sites are “on the immediate horizon” after the company has abandoned its plan to pump spring water from a location near the White River’s headwaters.

But don’t rule out future investigations, she added.

“We have made a substantial investment in Michigan, and our brand continues to grow,” said spokeswoman Deborah Muchmore. “As that continues, we will be looking at additional sources of natural spring water that help us provide what consumers are looking for.”

Nestle Waters North America Inc. officials said studies show the water at a Monroe Township site is of a different mineral composition than that currently sold under the company’s Ice Mountain label.

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April 3, 2007

New York bottle bill is casualty of budget deal

WaterTech Online reports on the New York bottled water deposit bill:

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer dropped his proposal to place a 5-cent deposit on bottles of noncarbonated beverages, including bottled water, from the recently approved state budget as part of negotiations with state legislators to produce an on-time budget.

See prior post on this bill here.

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Ontario to tax water bottlers

The Toronto Star carries this story on the Province’s plan to charge companies that bottle large amounts of water taken from the Great Lakes:

The province imposes only a tiny charge for its mandatory permits for taking large amounts of water. The … proposed legislation does not spell out exactly what constitutes large amounts of bottled water.

The industry insists it’s not a threat to the province’s groundwater supply and complains it is being unfairly singled out.

Although consumption of bottled water in Canada jumped nearly 20 per cent between 2004 and 2005, provincial statistics show bottlers take less than two-tenths of 1 per cent of all the water extracted from Ontario’s lakes, rivers and underground streams, the association stated in a report last year.

“The amount of water that we’re using as an industry is equal to the amount 10 golf courses use in a year,” Griswold [Elizabeth Griswold, executive director of the Canadian Bottled Water Association] said.

The legislation would also enshrine into law a deal signed in December 2005 by Ontario, Quebec and eight U.S. states to strengthen restrictions on bulk water exports out of the Great Lakes. It’s aimed mainly at preventing states in the south and Midwest – whose water supplies are running low – from tapping into the lakes.

For an update on where the Great Lakes Compact and Agreement are in the legislative process, see this prior post.

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March 22, 2007

Private Bottled Water Companies Flying Under the Radar

Filed under: Bottled Water,Canada,Great Lakes Issues — nemo @ 7:03 pm

The big three bottlers (Coke, Pepsi and Nestle) often garner all the media attention surrounding their bottling activities but there are a substantial number of private labels that go unnoticed. The Polaris Institute released this report on one of them:

In the Spring of 2006, the Ontario government gave the bottled water company Aquafarms permission to take 11.9 billion litres of water over ten years for their operations in Feversham, Ontario. Some of its customers include, Loblaws, Wal-Mart and Shoppers Drug Mart. Aquafarms also has operations in British Columbia, and North Carolina and is in the process of expanding into Tennessee and Massachusetts.

The company is relatively unknown to consumers, but is among the top-four bottled water companies in Canada along with Coke, Pepsi and Nestle. Their anonymity is due to the fact that they are a privately held company. As a private company they are not required to disclose any financial information to regulatory bodies leaving them virtually hidden from public scrutiny. Their status as a private company has let them operate under almost everybody’s radar.

In order for Aquafarms to get permission to take large amounts of water, it is required by law to obtain a Permit To Take Water (PTTW) from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MoE). Their latest PTTW, issued in the Spring of 2006, gives the company permission to take 3,273,120 liters of water a day from three wells for the next ten years. This adds up to 11.9 billion litres over the 10-year period.

There are few statistics on the numbers of licensed bottlers or the amount of water they bottle. Michigan, for instance, had 44 in 2006.

Source: Polaris Institute’s new report Aguafarms 93 Exposed (pdf)

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