When Was Bottled Water Invented?
Water has been around since the creation of the Earth. The first recorded evidence of its use for therapeutic purposes was in the 16th century, but it was not until the 19th century that bottled water became a commercial product in Europe. Until then, people gathered the water from springs or bought it from the local grocer.
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In the 19th century, bottled water was seen as a healthier alternative to tap water. It was thought to contain minerals and had healing effects. Despite its popularity in the early years, it began losing ground as chlorination techniques were developed in the 19th and 20th centuries. These technologies were used to kill bacteria, making tap water safer.
The chlorination process was introduced in some parts of the US in 1908, and the process proved successful. Chlorination was a way to make tap water safe for public consumption, but it came with some downsides. For example, the chlorine had to travel great distances, and could be contaminated by pathogens. That led to a public fear of cholera and typhoid outbreaks. Since typhoid is fatal, the risk of these diseases was real.
When chlorination began to take hold in the US, the demand for purified bottled water soared. By the mid-1900s, millions of bottles were sold annually in the United States. There was also a high price tag attached to these products. This made them attractive to the rich and trendy.
By the late 1940s, “throwaway living” had become popular. People started using plastic bottles to drink their drinks, as they were lighter and more durable than glass. Plastic bottles were able to withstand the pressure of carbonated liquids, which made them ideal for cold beverages. PET (polyethylene terephthalate) was one of the first types of plastics to be fashioned into bottles.
Another major factor in the growth of the bottled water industry in the 20th century was the increasing popularity of mineral springs as a tourist attraction. These waters were widely considered to have therapeutic qualities and were sold in pharmacies. A number of large multinationals, such as Nestle, Danone, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, entered the market, fighting for global market share.
However, these companies soon found that their success in the US didn’t translate into a massive global market share. Those markets with a higher per capita consumption experienced lower growth. At the end of the decade, four large multinationals dominated the global market.
During this period, Perrier was the leading brand of bottled water in the US. After a recall in 1990, the company’s market share dropped to 20 percent. But the advertising campaign that brought Perrier back into the limelight revived the popularity of bottled water in the U.S. Over the course of the next several decades, many other bottled water companies capitalized on the void left by Perrier.
Today, bottled water is the second largest commercial beverage in the U.S., with a market value of $20 billion. And although it has been around for over 120 years, it has seen a revival in the early 2000s, sparking a renewed interest in this healthy beverage.