Bottled water industry grows despite increase costs - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Bottled water industry grows despite increase costs

October 21, 2005

Early County- A record hurricane season is good news and bad news for water bottlers. Good because it increased the already busy demand for bottled water, bad because of the increase in petroleum prices, a main component of bottling water.

Nantze Springs is the only spring water distributor in southwest Georgia. Over the last five years the bottled water business has nearly doubled and with the demand of recent storms, water is flowing out of the Early County plant, just as fast as they're pumping it in.

"During September, we probably sent 80 to 90 truck loads down there at minimal," said Malone Garrett, Nantze Springs CEO.

While Nantze Spring didn't send a lot of water to FEMA they did box up extra relief for customers in the gulf region.

"Bottled water companies have come to the rescue in a lot of instances where a lot of people would have no water," said Garrett.

It's been business as usual, but a new storm has watchful eyes on Florida.

"We're sort of watching Wilma and listening to the experts, but as the experts say right now there's no telling what the storms going to do, it's too early," said Garrett.

Because another storm could increase demand and increase their costs.

"Everything that we do with our product other than the product itself and corrugate is petroleum based and that affects us tremendously," said Garrett.

Petroleum is used to make the bottles, caps, wrap the shipment, and then there's the cost of shipping.

"Diesel prices have not fallen so every time we have a truck or a disaster happens, the trucking company, it's putting a lot of pressure on everyone," said Garrett.

With cost increases and repeated requests for donated product, the company says the growth they've seen, quickly evaporates.

Right now, because of the industry growth, bottled water is the number two seller in convenience stores. By 2008, bottled water is expected to outsell carbonated soft drinks.

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