Department of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology of the RWTH Aachen University

Bottled Water – A Rapidly Growing Market in India

Bottled water consumption in Germany is very high although high quality tap water is available. The reasons are that many people just don’t like the taste of their tap water and also the intensive marketing and advertising of bottled water. People believe that the qualitiy of bottled water is higher than that of tap water. Additionally sparkling water is very popular in Germany. In India the market for bottled water is growing rapidly too but here bottled water often is a necessity if you want to have access to clean drinking water.

water delivery

There already is a blog entry on the difficulties the citizens of Indian cities are facing when it comes to the supply of tap water (click here). This tap water usually should not be drunk untreated so before consuming it, it has to be boiled or filtered. Additionally most households only receive tap water every alternate day for a few hours or even less. Therefore for those who can afford it, it often is convenient to buy bottled water although in the long run the installation of a water filter might be cheaper. So the market drivers for the bottled water market in India are health issues, water shortages and the unavailability of safe drinking water.

public water fountain

There are traders specialised in drinking water who deliver it directly to your doorstep, usually in big, sometimes reusable containers that serve as water dispensers. Bottled water also is available everywhere in the streets. Instead of using a public drinking fountain where you never know whether the quality is good or bad, it’s very convenient just to buy a bottle of bottled water. These bottles come in all kinds of sizes and shapes and the more of these bottles are bought, the more plastic garbage piles up…

The Indian bottled water market today is dominated by three companies: Parle Bisleri, Coca Cola and Pepsico India. It is expected that the market will grow at an annual rate of 30% over the next 5 to 10 years. These numbers are not very surprising when you take into consideration that the average consumption of bottled drinking water in India is only one fifth of the global average of around 24l per year.  In 2010 the revenue generated by bottled drinking water already amounted to more than 175 million Euros in India.

imported water

Another reason for the increasing demand of bottled water in India is that like in Germany it is becoming more and more a fashionable lifestyle product too. Himalayan water is sold in aesthetically designed bottles and in the metro cities you can even buy the famous brands of Italian and French mineral water. With growing disposable incomes this segment of the drinking water market will continue to grow quickly, despite the ecological impacts of this highly questionable development.

plastic garbage

If all the money spent on bottled water was invested in improving the infrastructure for a safe tap water supply, in terms of quantity and quality, then it probably wouldn’t be necessary to buy bottled water at all and even the poor who cannot afford bottled water would profit from better tap water. But then this would be a development the big players in the industry probably wouldn’t be too fond of…

Kilian Christ
Kilian Christ, PhD Student, RWTH Aachen University, Department of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, See all posts from Kilian Christ
  1. Great article. I have always been against bottled water. I think it should only be used in situations where there are no other options and quick supply of drinking water is needed, for example in areas which got hit by natural calamities. Terms like, “Branded water” and “Imported water” are very funny to me and I think it should be funny to everyone but sadly that’s not the case. The companies who are getting immense profit from selling such a cheap product are definitely not going to stop advertising or think about the environmental factors. The consumers have to look at the bigger picture.

  2. Shantanu Garg

    I would like to inform you that GIZ (German International Corporation) & NABARD is implementing an “Umbrella Programme on Natural Resources Management (UPNRM*)” through various agencies in which we are focusing on the shift from grant to loan approach. The UPNRM is an innovative approach from long lasting Indo German relations which provides customized financial solutions to the legal entities.

    UPNRM is following a programme based approach wherein different channel partners (agencies) are being supported for implementing various types of sustainable NRM projects conforming to the flexible programming mechanism on agreed policies and guiding principles of the strategic partners through innovative customized financial products. We are now focusing on Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode where we can facilitate (credit and credit plus support) to both the partners to work out their synergies. We are looking for some initiatives or some potential models where we can facilitate in developing PPP in this high potential sector.

    It would be great to have your views and interest to work on or suggestions for making some partnering arrangements (between Government and Private partner, being us as a facilitator) and to shape the PPP approaches in future. Please feel free for further query.

    Looking forward for your reply.

    Shantanu Garg
    Umbrella Programme on Natural Resource Management, India
    Technical Expert

  3. Hello there, Ive already been a lurker around your blog only a couple of months.
    I need this article and unfortunately your entire blog!
    Looking forward to studying more!

  4. botled water is not accessible to poor, hence quality of tap watr is to be imprved

  5. How do i get patent for my upcoming packaged drinking water bottle in India?


  6. nirmitha ponnappa

    Its an informative artical

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