Why Bottled Water Is So Expensive – Some Facts

By | February 7, 2023

Consumers are often faced with a dilemma when it comes to choosing their source of hydration: drink from the tap or opt for bottled water. While the former is easily accessible and often free, the latter can come with a much heftier price tag, sometimes costing upwards of $2 to $4 for a mere 16 ounces. So, why is bottled water so expensive and what makes certain brands cost more than others?

One factor is convenience. Some people may prefer having a cold bottle of water ready to drink instead of the slightly lukewarm water that comes from their tap. Others may be concerned about the quality of the water that comes from their local water source, which prompts them to turn to bottled water as an alternative. Regardless of the reason, consumers are willing to pay a premium for the convenience and perceived quality of bottled water.

Another factor that affects the price of bottled water is the cost of packaging and advertising. Brands that have a large budget for marketing will likely pass on those expenses to their consumers. Store-brand water, on the other hand, may be cheaper because they have a lower ad budget.

In some cases, the price of bottled water may also be associated with the method used to purify it. Some brands simply filter tap water and put it in a bottle with an attractive label. Others, however, take additional steps to purify the water or add electrolytes for improved taste. Brands like Fiji charge a premium for their bottled water due to their pure private water source and the transportation costs associated with it.

Finally, bottled water is subject to federal oversight by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates the water quality and ensures that it is safe for consumption. If a water bottler claims that their water comes from a well or spring, consumers can trust that the claim is true because of the FDA’s monitoring and regulation of the industry. The FDA also sets limits on the levels of lead that are allowed in bottled water, with tap water being allowed to have up to 15 parts per billion (ppb) of lead, while bottled water is limited to a maximum of 5 ppb.

Is the higher cost of bottled water worth it? For some people, the answer is yes. Although tap water is safe and undergoes processing to kill pathogens, it can still have a different taste due to the presence of minerals in the water source or the residential plumbing system. Ultimately, the decision to drink bottled water or tap water is a personal one, and whether the reasons for the high cost of bottled water are justified or not is up to the individual consumer to decide.

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