Expanding the selection of healthy, better-for-you snacks and foods has been a big front-end merchandising focus for drug chains as they position themselves as wellness destinations.
But drug stores are already well-stocked with a staple item that brings a good deal of dietary benefits — bottled water.
A new study from the Beverage Marketing Corp. (BMC) reveals that Americans have reaped significant caloric savings by boosting their consumption of bottled water over other beverages. In doing so, they’ve cut 61 trillion to 68 trillion calories over the past 15 years (covering BMC’s study period of 2000-2015).
“Bottled water’s ascent has been driven in large part by America’s move to healthier beverage choices, which has effectively resulted in calorie savings for all Americans,” according to Michael Bellas, chairman and CEO of BMC.
Bottled water has been the top growth category in the U.S. beverage market over the past two decades, BMC notes. Total volume surpassed 11.7 billion gallons in 2015, surging from 4.7 billion in 2000. Meanwhile, individual bottled water consumption swelled 120% from 16.7 gallons per person in 2000 to 36.7 gallons per person in 2015.
Over the same time frame, all other liquid refreshment beverages (LRBs) dropped in total volume and individual consumption, according to BMC’s study.
The combined volume of non-bottled water LRBs — including carbonated soft drinks, fruit beverages, energy drinks, sports beverages, ready-to-drink coffee and tea, and all forms of milk — fell to 25.8 billion gallons in 2015 from 27 billion gallons in 2000. Personal consumption of these beverages declined 16.3% from 95.7 gallons per person in 2000 to 80.1 gallons per person last year.
“Bottled water already outsells, by volume, carbonated soft drinks in many U.S. cities, and we expect that it will very soon become the most consumed beverage product nationwide,” observed Gary Hemphill, managing director of research at BMC.
To illustrate the dietary impact of this trend over the 15-year period, BMC quantified the calories that consumers saved by opting for bottled water over beverages with more calories. The study showed that, on average, a person saved 24,000 to 27,000 calories in 2015 as compared with 2000, which translated to a daily savings of between 64 and 74 calories per person in 2015.
“To put this in perspective, imagine a person cutting 161 hot dogs, 126 chocolate donuts or 87 cheeseburgers from their diet last year. That’s the kind of difference we’re talking about when we quantify the number of calories saved due to this widespread shift to bottled water,” Bellas explained.
“Caloric savings of this magnitude is rarely achieved by any food or beverage category,” he added. “As health-conscious consumers continue to select bottled water in the years ahead, both they and the bottled water industry will feel the benefits of this choice.”
Check out the full BMC report for more beverage consumption data and an explanation of the study’s methodology for quantifying the calorie savings.