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US: Tap water – one of the fastest growing beverages

Water snobbery seems to be slowing to a trickle, according to a new market report out of America which has found that tap water is the one of the fastest growing beverages ordered at US restaurants.

In the latest industry report, to gauge the dining scene in the US, analysts with market research group, The NPD Group, found that while beverages like soft drinks and alcohol have been declining over the past five years, tap water servings have increased by 2.8 billion since 2006.

Currently, tap water represents ten percent of the 50 billion beverages ordered at restaurants, the report says, mostly because of its cost: free.

Over the last few decades, the bottled water industry has succeeded in turning a common natural resource into a fashion statement and status symbol, with brands like Evian, Perrier and San Pellegrino striking celebrity and designer collaborations, and snobby servers thumbing their nose at patrons who deign to ask for tap water.

But a crusade against bottled water led by environmental groups, health warnings about sugary drinks and a downturn in the economy seems to have brought consumers back to humble tap water and eroded elitist attitudes and sheepish embarrassment, even in high-end restaurants.

“Although the economy and high unemployment are factors in tap water’s upswing and beverage servings declines, some beverages, like carbonated soft drinks were declining prior to the recession,” points out report author, Bonnie Riggs.

Analysts also noted that while the iced tea market continues to grow, other growth categories include smoothies, iced and slushy drinks and speciality coffees.

Meanwhile, over the past five years, servings of revenue-generating drinks have decreased by six percent — or 2.7 billion orders. Carbonated soft drinks and brewed coffee — which represent nearly half of all beverages served — experienced the largest dip.

The report, released October 26, was based on the results of a survey that polled 5 500 adults over the age of 18.

Source: NPD Group

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