Category focus: Clear waters

As 2020 rolls in and Irish consumers opt in increasing numbers for healthier options, the category of bottled water continues to develop and thrive, writes Paulie Doyle


Brand Central

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23 January 2020

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In 1981, when businessman Geoff Read appeared on the Late Late Show to tell Ireland about his ingenious idea to sell bottled water, Gay Byrne couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Who would buy water?” asked the incredulous presenter, over audible laughs from the audience.

No one believed that Irish people would be interested in purchasing drinking water.

Read has since been vindicated – he did have a good idea, and almost 40 years later Irish consumers continue to purchase bottled water in record numbers. Today, the market for bottled water in Ireland is estimated to be worth millions, with consumers spending over €75m in 2019 alone. According to Kantar’s 2017 Republic of Ireland TGI study, 63% of Irish adults, or roughly 2.4 million people, consume bottled water.

Market trends see Ireland becoming more selective about the bottled water it consumes, as more and more brands become available. “Discerning Irish consumers increasingly choose differentiation in their hydration choices and are becoming more attracted by products positioned as “smart water,” a 2019 report on Irish consumption of bottled water from Euromonitor reads. “These products are set to record good value sales growth as consumers become increasingly convinced that not all bottled water is the same,” the report adds.

In recent years, single use plastics and waste produced in the category have become a topic of contention. However, brands have responded in kind and have begun to produce more environmentally friendly products. The category has also developed the number of options available to consumers, offering a variety of flavoured waters.

Further benefitting Irish water-sellers is the sale of bottled water abroad, with the CSO stating that Irish exports of still and sparkling water last year stood at €110.14 million. Also bolstering sales is Ireland’s water infrastructure, which is inadequate and in need of modernisation, meaning that the public is often seeking to ensure that they have clean, safe water to drink.


A thirst for healthier options

Bottled water sales have benefitted from increased health-consciousness on the part of consumers, coupled with a spike in people playing sports; according to Sport Ireland, for instance, more than 50% of adults over age 50 now practice sport every day.

It is currently estimated that the Irish health category is worth approximately 2.5 billion, with bottled water benefitting from its popularity. Mintel’s The Future of Salty Snacks: 2019 study found that a whopping 73% of people survey want to see healthier options at the checkout when doing their shopping.

The Irish government has invested millions in health initiatives and health awareness campaigns in recent years, making the public more likely to choose healthy food and drink options – and there are few drinks healthier than bottled water.

Flavour country

Tipperary Water is excited to launch a brand new flavoured still waters range in a 1.5L PET bottle. There are two flavours, Lemon & Lime and Strawberry. Both flavours have zero sugar and zero calories so are perfect for those on a ‘New Year New Me’ health kick.

With more and more people wanting to get healthy and increase their water intake, these are an ideal solution and following on from the success of Tipperary Water’s 1.5L format in still water, the brand believes this is what the consumer is looking for.

The company wanted to help them to have an easy solution to increasing their water intake while also giving them an option that was full of flavour. Both new flavours are now available for order; contact your local C&C rep for more details.

Choices for athletes

Ireland’s Ballygowan has teamed up with the GAA & GPA to develop a fitness drink for active lives called Ballygowan Activ+, which is the official fitness partner of the GAA/GPA. Delivering on Britvic’s ‘A Healthier Everyday’ strategy to help consumers make healthier choices and lead healthier lives, Ballygowan Activ+ was developed by Britvic in consultation with the GAA/GPA based on the refreshment needs of both elite sports people and today’s everyday health conscious consumer.

The added vitamins, minerals and electrolytes in Ballygowan Activ+ help to refresh and replenish our bodies so we can maintain an active lifestyle every day. Ballygowan Activ+ has zero sugar and only 25 calories per 500ml bottle with two tempting fruit flavours to choose from; Orange or Apple & Raspberry. It is available nationwide at an RRP of €1.75/£1.35.

Ballygowan Activ+ is suitable for everyone, no matter what their activity level is – from leading GAA players to a group of friends playing a five-a-side or to refresh after a brisk walk or run.


Quality, sustainability and innovation

Ishka Irish Spring Water, celebrating 40 years, has come into 2020 swinging, with a fresh new label design.

2020 will be another exciting year for Ishka Irish Spring Water. As well as marking its 40th anniversary this year, two new production lines will be up and running in the next six months.

By June, a total of five production lines will be in use at the company’s state-of-the-art Ballyneety site, which is already the largest of its kind in Ireland. The first new line will supply product in glass bottles, to cater to a growing demand among the hospitality market, as well as general consumer appetite for recyclables.

The second will further expand on the company’s sustainability drive, as it will be dedicated to a new type of recyclable plastic container. All Ishka’s current bottles are 100% recyclable, and the company is continually working towards increasing its recycled content.

2019 also brought Ishka Irish Spring Water’s first foray into the export market. Management has its sights set on the exciting potential in Asia and the US, where the team believes Ishka’s products could have a real impact.

Securing the contract to supply WH Smith outlets and DAA at Dublin and Cork airports in Ireland were highlights of the past few months, bringing high-profile additions to Ishka Irish Spring Water’s impressive portfolio of customers, including Aldi, BWG Group, Dunnes Stores, Lidl, Musgrave Group, Pallas Foods (Sysco) and the Stonehouse Group, to name but a few.

Production aside, Ishka Irish Spring Water made great strides in growing the company’s profile. The role of Official Water Partner for the 2019 KBC Dublin Marathon was a fantastic opportunity for brand exposure – with 22,000 runners enjoying the product and thousands of more supporters along the route seeing the Ishka brand. The company also sponsored one of the top awards at the EIQA Q Mark Awards, which afforded it valuable exposure to a wide range of businesses at a gala event in Dublin, and through the subsequent nationwide PR campaign.

The milestone 40th-anniversary celebrations have gotten underway and Mike, Denis and all the team at Ishka Irish Spring Water are excited for the next 40 years of the adventure.

All in all, it looks like Ishka is not ready to take the foot off the pedal for Irish spring water production. Ishka is continuing to light the way for quality, sustainability and innovation and drive the industry forward.

For wholesale, retail, vending and food service enquiries contact national sales manager, Maurece Wallace, on 061 450705 or email

Cooler waters

The IceWater system provides an endless supply of chilled still and sparkling water

IceWater is Ireland’s leading independent provider of premium filtered water and water filtration systems. The IceWater system offers an alternative to bottled water and provides an endless supply of chilled still and sparkling water.

IceWater has partnered up with some of Ireland’s leading bars and restaurants in a bid to reduce the consumption of single-use plastic bottles in the hospitality industry.

Prior to adopting the IceWater system, clients would have previously used in excess of 100,000 plastic water bottles annually.

Icewater is uniquely recognised for its slogan, ‘Experience the taste’ and is produced on site using internationally sourced Profine Filters to filter tap water, creating a pure and fresh taste. The company provide filters that are tailored to volume and water specifications.

To meet the needs of domestic and corporate markets, IceWater will continue to diversify its range of products and introduce new sustainable innovations.

In 2020, IceWater will also continue efforts to create a green and sustainable future by introducing a programme of ‘green talks’ for educational institutions to spread awareness and educate students about eco-friendly practices.





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