Bottled Water Industry

Bottled Water Segment – Number Two in the Beverage Category

It seems like everyone appreciates bottled water's convenience, healthfulness, good taste and dependable quality. After all, it's healthy, refreshing, and free of calories and additives.

People are increasingly returning to water as their choice of refreshment and source for well-being. In fact, in 2005, 82 percent of adults, ages 18-59, consumed bottled water; 70 percent consumed at least one bottle per week*.

* Source: FRC Research, an Internet survey of 7,622 adults across the U.S., February to August 2005. (margin of error +/- 1.3%)


Nestlé Waters Canada – A Leader in the Bottled Water Industry

Our brands are top performers, and our significant investments in our people, facilities and technology have enabled high-speed manufacturing practices, high-quality products and a low-cost distribution system.


In Canada, bottled water is regulated as a food by Health Canada. Water bottling companies are inspected by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Permits to take water must be applied for and obtained from provincial environment ministries. Bottling companies continuously test their product to ensure its quality, and Canadian Bottled Water Association members must adhere to the association's stringent Bottled Water Model Code, Bottled Water Food Safety Practices, Certified Plant Operator Program and Third Party Plant Audit requirements as a condition of membership. Most of the bottled water produced in Canada is sold in Canada. Bottled water companies range from large multinationals to small and medium-sized Canadian-owned companies. There are two different segments of bottled water markets within the industry:


  • The home and office delivery (HOD) format, which consists of primarily returnable polycarbonate containers (up to 18 litres in size);
  • The single-serve PET bottle format, ranging from 250 ml to 3 litres.

The industry's first bottled water companies started in Toronto and Montreal just after World War I, delivering bottled water to offices and homes. A number of factors have contributed to the popularity of bottled water. As consumers focus on healthy eating with a significant emphasis on sufficient hydration, bottled water is seen as a natural product and a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. Demand has also increased as a result of greater portability and accessibility via convenience stores, gas stations, supermarkets, food service and hospitality, and vending machines. The increased consumption of bottled water has moved the product beyond the niche market and into the mainstream as bottled water has become a basic staple for many Canadians.


Bottled water competes with a variety of packaged beverages, including carbonated soft drinks, milk, juices, soya beverages, energy drinks and sport drinks, and to a lesser extent with hot drinks such as coffee, tea and hot chocolate, and low-alcohol wine coolers and ciders. We see our competition as other bottled beverages, NOT tap water.

“Bottled water competes with a variety of other cold beverages, including carbonated soft drinks, milk, juices, soya beverages, energy drinks, and sport drinks and to a lesser extent with hot drinks such as coffee, tea and hot chocolate, and low alcohol wine coolers and ciders.” (1)

The majority of Canadians (52%) drink a combination of bottled and tap water. (2) They consume tap water at home and bottled water on the go for proper hydration, good health and simple convenience. (3)

Quality standards for bottled and municipal waters are similar. Bottled water is held to the same scrutiny as tap water and is strictly regulated by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as a food product. According to Health Canada: “Consumers should be aware that bottled water is as safe to consume as tap water from a microbiological quality and chemical safety standpoint.” (4)

Less than 1% of municipal tap water is used for drinking. If the bottled water industry ceased operation tomorrow, there would be no appreciable increase in the amount of tap water consumed by Canadians. (5)

1 Agriculture & Agri-food Canada. The Canadian Bottled Water Industry. 25 Mar 2009.
2 Probe Research Inc. July 2012.
3 Probe Research Inc. July 2012.
4 Health Canada. Food and Nutrition, Questions and Answers on Bottled Water. December 15, 2013.
5 City of Toronto. Public Works. December 2008.