Bottled Water in Western Europe

April 2021

The pandemic in 2020 positively impacted off-trade volume sales of bottled water in Western Europe. Stockpiling during the lockdown periods, and a consumer preference for larger packages and healthier soft drinks helped the category to grow, although concerns regarding sustainability were a hindrance to sales of bottled water. Regarding specific categories, flavoured and functional bottled water have seen the fastest growth, with a range of new products being developed.

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Key findings

Lockdowns in 2020 increase off-trade consumption of bottled water

Over the review period, off-trade volume sales fluctuated. After increases until 2018, consumption of bottled water decreased in 2019, due to the maturity of the category in some markets and the plastic backlash. However, off-trade volume sales spiked during lockdowns in 2020. Consumer stockpiling, higher sales of larger bottles, strong demand for healthier soft drinks and the prioritisation of cheaper products played in favour of the category in 2020.

Soft drinks consumers being captured by bottled water

As bottled water is perceived as a pure and natural soft drink, it has advantages when competing against other categories. Drinkers of carbonates and juices increasingly see carbonated bottled water and flavoured bottled water as options to quench their thirst, while functional bottled water has emerged as a healthier alternative for consumers of sports and energy drinks.

Concerns regarding plastic use in bottled water packaging

The use of plastic is a barrier to bottled water consumption. As the sustainability trend expands and consumers become more environmentally conscious, new packaging options are likely to emerge. Materials such as r-PET, cardboard and aluminium might become more common, as well as alternative ways of drinking water, such as filters and refilling stations.

Functional and flavoured bottled water to be key areas of innovation

Despite their current low volume sales, functional and flavoured bottled water are categories to watch during the forecast period. The health and wellness wave that pre-dated the pandemic is expected to strengthen after the surge of COVID-19. As consumers become more attentive to their wellbeing, flavoured and functional bottled water are likely to see innovation and new product developments in the coming years.


Key findings

Regional Overview

Western Europe from a global perspective
The lockdown in 2020 boosts some categories
The health and wellness trend and its positive effects
Difficult times for carbonated bottled water
Growth led by still bottled water in Turkey and Spain
Functional and flavoured bottled water as healthier alternatives
Non-store retailing growth driven by e-commerce
Winners and losers in the distribution landscape

Leading Companies and Brands

Concentration and fragmentation leading countries on different routes
Fluctuating shares for some of the leading companies
New product developments are crucial for expansion
Turkish brands see growth, but little change among the leaders

Forecast Projections

The slow revival of bottled water in the on-trade
Turkey and France to outweigh the drops in Spain, Italy and Germany
Sustainability and health awareness to be key drivers
The main drivers in each country
Functional bottled water forecast to see the fastest growth

Country Snapshots

Austria: Market context
Austria: Competitive and retail landscape
Belgium: Market context
Belgium: Competitive and retail landscape
Denmark: Market context
Denmark: Competitive and retail landscape
Finland: Market context
Finland: Competitive and retail landscape
France: Market context
France: Competitive and retail landscape
Germany: Market context
Germany: Competitive and retail landscape
Greece: Market context
Greece: Competitive and retail landscape
Ireland: Market context
Ireland: Competitive and retail landscape
Italy: Market context
Italy: Competitive and retail landscape
Netherlands: Market context
Netherlands: Competitive and retail landscape
Norway: Market context
Norway: Competitive and retail landscape
Portugal: Market context
Portugal: Competitive and retail landscape
Spain: Market context
Spain: Competitive and retail landscape
Sweden: Market context
Sweden: Competitive and retail landscape
Switzerland: Market context
Switzerland: Competitive and retail landscape
Turkey: Market context
Turkey: Competitive and retail landscape
UK: Market context
UK: Competitive and retail landscape


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