Bye Bye soft drink? Mexicans ‘fall in love’ with water and flavored drinks


Between 2012 and 2022, per capita consumption of both plain and flavored bottled water grew by 50 percent.

The campaign against soft drinks launched by the government and the need for Mexicans to improve their consumption habits, after two years of the health emergency due to the coronavirus, boosted sales of bottled water and flavored drinks, ‘weakening’ the performance of marketing of soft drinks

Between 2012 and 2022, per capita consumption of both natural and flavored bottled water grew 50 percent, from 207 to 310 liters per year, according to data from Euromonitor and Statista. While in that same period, the per capita consumption of soft drinks fell 8.6 percent, going from 112.4 to 102.7 liters.

For this year it is projected that Mexico will be the fourth largest consumer of bottled water in the world, with a market valued at 15 thousand 896 million dollars, only behind the United States, China, and Germany, according to Statista.

“ Bottled water gained market share by starting innovations and going from just plain water to entering the flavor and low-calorie beverage market,” said Markel Lehman, a marketing specialist at La Salle’s College of Business.

Although flavored water like soft drinks faces the calorie tax that went into effect in 2014, its consumption has not been demonized, Lehman added.

The two most representative bottlers in the country and for Coca-Cola Mexico, Coca-Cola FEMSA (KOF) and Arca Continental (AC), reported double-digit growth in their water and non-carbonated portfolios, while soft drinks barely recovered to levels prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For the KOF bottler, which serves the center and southeast of the country, the volume of sales of bottled water and non-carbonated beverages grew 17.2 percent annually in 2021, while its soft drink portfolio only increased 0.7 percent annually.

Meanwhile, Arca Continental, which operates the Coca-Cola portfolio in the north of the country, increased its sales of water and non-carbonated water by 14.6 percent annually, and soft drinks by 2.6 percent.

“Part of this growth in non-carbonated beverages and water would be explained by generational changes in the population of Mexico, where younger segments of the population, even with a greater degree of concern about health, may be changing to a certain extent point consumption patterns towards beverages with a less negative connotation in terms of health, particularly in terms of high caloric content”, commented Marco Montañez, deputy director of analysis for Vector.

In 2020, the consumption of soft drinks in Mexico fell 1 percent per year, although by 2021 it recovered with a rise of 2 percent per year, according to INEGI.

“Water is the one with the greatest growth in volumes, the part of soft drinks fell with the pandemic because it is a product that is called ‘on the go’ and at events, it is where they were weakened, and water continued to grow, responds to the consumer’s change to look for healthier products”, considered Marisol Huerta, an analyst at Ve Por Más.

Favorite brands

In the water market, the favorite brands are Levité with a 20.5 percent market share, followed by Bonafont with 10.5 percent, both belonging to the Danone Group; and in the third position is Ciel with 10.4 percent of the market, data from Euromonitor indicate.

In the soft drink segment, 56.1 percent is owned by Coca-Cola, 11.5 percent by Pepsi, and 5.1 percent by Coca-Cola Sin Azúcar.

“The Coca-Cola brand achieved growth for the sixth consecutive year, closing 2021 with an increase of 2.8 percent (in sales), a result was mainly driven by the relaunch of Coca-Cola Sin Azúcar”, highlighted the AC bottler.

Currently, 55 percent of the beverages sold in the country are low or zero calories, according to the National Association of Producers of Soft Drinks and Carbonated Waters (ANPRAC).

“We reduced the average calories in every 100 milliliters of a beverage by 15 percent, going from 40 in 2008 to 34 calories in 2020, and we hope to reach 29 calories in 2024,” replied the ANPRAC, which brings together 120 bottlers operating in Mexico.


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