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INSIDECOSTARICA.COM | COSTA RICA  NEWS |        Monday 05 September 2011

Costa Rica: Few Brands Dominate The Market For Bottled Water

When you order a bottle of water at a restaurant or bar most likely you will be handed a bottle of Alpina, Cristal or a Canada Dry. The same at the supermarket, the grab is predominantly for one of the three.

This fact is supported by the survey "Estudio Multimedios Plus" by Ibope Media taking into account responses between March 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011, of Costa Ricans who had consumed bottled water in the 30 days preceding.

The three brands have significant differences in their development: Alpina is purified, Cristal is spring water, while Canada Dry is mineral water.

The survey further found that the bottled water market also accounts for a wide range of flavoured drinks, including H20, Aquarias and Dasani.

Although there are no recent figures on the number of brands in the market, a 2005 study led by Darner Mora, director of the National Water Laboratory of the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados (AyA) - Costa Rican Water and Sewage utility - found about 40, between local and foreign.

While the choice in bars and restaurants is limited to only a few and usually the top selling brands, in supermarkets there is a wide choice of brands.

For instance, at the Automercado they sell 10 different brands of bottled water, while at the Megesuper there is a choice of 14. Other supermarkets give their customers similar choices.

While consumers have such a varied choice, brand marketing is the ultimate decision maker for consumers.

The top three have big budgets mostly for being part of organizations with huge sales volumes of varied bottled drinks and excellent distribution channels.

The Alpina brand is owned, marketed and distributed by the Coca Cola Femsa in Costa Rica. The Cristal is owned, bottled and distributed by Florida Bebidas, the same company that owns and operates the Cerveceria Costa Rica, the beer brewery.

While Canada Dry is a brand of soft drinks owned since 2008 by the Texas-based Dr Pepper Snapple Group. For over a century Canada Dry has been known for its ginger ale, though the company also manufactures a number of other soft drinks and mixers. Although Canada Dry originated in its namesake country, it is now produced in many countries around the globe, including the United States, the Middle East, Europe and Japan.

The Ibope survey reveals that the number one choice of bottled water is the Alpina brand, with a 62% response by those surveyed. Following is Cristal with a 37% popularity by those polled.

However, Florida Bebidas claims to have first place in the bottled water market with over 50% of the national market.

For the Aya's Mora, "people spend money on bottled water when most of the country's water supply providing water to a quality equal or better".

Mora cites a 2009 study led by him for the AyA showed that Costa Rica is one of the countries in Latin America where less drink bottled water, with a per capita consumption of 20.1 litres, while in Mexico, the leader with an annual per capita intake of 226.2 litres.

Why drink bottled water?
Public water supply systems (in Costa Rica supplied nationally by the AyA) are faced with the growing problem of dealing with a variety of contaminants, which were unknown when many treatment plants were designed or built during the past fifty years.

In addition, the amount of water being used is beginning to strain the capacity of many treatment systems.

While public systems continue to produce water, which meets all minimum health requirements, they are often forced to produce water which is highly chlorinated or which simply does not look good, taste good, or smell good.


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