How Much Does Bottled Water Cost?

How much does bottled water cost? Like most products, bottled water has a consumer cost and environmental cost. Retail price is often what concerns people most. “Where can I get the best price on a case of 16.9-ounce bottled water?” It’s easy to compare prices and cost hits the wallet right now. The environmental cost may be more challenging to calculate and see but it still exists. We’ll deal with consumer cost in this post.

How Much Does Bottle Water Cost Wholesalers?

Bottled Water in BulkThe International Bottled Water Association states on their website, “According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), the average wholesale price per gallon of domestic non-sparkling bottled water was $1.13 in 2010. As a popular retail food product, bottled water is available at many differing price points. Also, according to BMC, consumers most often tend to buy bottled water in bulk from supermarkets or large discount retailers.”

How Much Does Bottled Water Cost Consumers?

Consumers pay retail, not wholesale. I surfed the Web and found bottled water advertised from less than $0.25 to well over several dollars per 16.9-ounce bottle sold in bulkThe price of bottled water varies hugely depending on:

  • Type – spring, purified, mineral
  • Brand – store (plain wrap), national, or upscale
  • Bottle Size – 8-ounce, 16.9-ounce, gallon
  • Quantity – 1 single serving bottle, a case, a pallet
  • Purchase Location – convenience store, supermarket, large discount chain store

$$$ Purchasing Bottled Water Can Add Up to Big Dollars $$$

Dollar Signs - Bottled Water Can Add Up to Big MoneySometimes we don’t see how incremental costs can add up to a huge number. For example, if you were to drink just one 16.9-ounce bottle of water a day at a cost of say $.50 per bottle, you would have spent $182.50 in a year. After 50 years you would have spent $9,125.00 on bottled water and used 1,800 plastic bottles. I don’t know about you but I can think of many things I could do with $9,125.00. Imagine if you drank two bottles a day, or bought upscale or flavored waters at $1.00 each. That would double your 50-year cost to $18,250.00.

Imagine what could be done with that kind of money

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Why Do People Drink Bottled Water and How Much?

Bottled WaterWhy do people drink bottled water and how much?

I personally don’t get it from an economic and environmental standpoint but people do drink bottled water so I decided to do some research. Below is an unscientific summary of some of my findings.

Why Do People Drink Bottled Water?

  • Convenience
  • Taste
  • Concern about Tap Water Safety / Health
  • Alternative to Other Bottled Drinks


Really. It just isn’t that difficult to fill up a glass or reusable water bottle from a faucet (with or with-out filter), water-filter pitcher, refrigerator door, etc.


I guess I’m just not that picky about water taste as I think tap water tastes fine. I’ll also drink coffee out of a vending machine if pressed so maybe that explains it. There are many products available to filter tap water from water-filter pitchers to reverse osmosis systems so the “I don’t like the taste of tap water” excuse just doesn’t fly.

Concern about Tap Water Safety / Health

Water Faucet with Glass of WaterThe United States enjoys one of the best supplies of drinking water in the world. However, some people are concerned about the safety of water from their water faucet. Other people with certain health conditions may need to be especially careful about drinking water qualities. People experiencing the aftermath of a natural or man-made disaster need access to safe drinking water. It is important to address individual concerns and special requirements with information and solutions that meet their needs. Bottled water isn’t the only solution. I don’t pretend to be an expert in this area but have listed some resources below that might help get people pointed in the right direction.

Tap and Bottled Water Standards

The U.S. EPA sets standards for tap water provided by public water supplies; the U.S. FDA sets standards for bottled water based on EPA standards. An interesting caveat, U.S. FDA  bottled water standards only apply to water sold via interstate commerce or imported. For water bottled and sold in the same state, contact your state health department for information on bottled water standards.

Alternative to Other Bottled Drinks

The International Bottled Water Association states on their website, “although bottled water has often been likened to tap water, bottled water actually achieved its market stature by enticing consumers away from other packaged beverages perceived as less wholesome than bottled water”.

I found this statement amusing. If one wants to drink something more “wholesome” like water, one doesn’t need a bottle of water. A glass or reusable bottle of water will do. You’ve got to love the American marketing machine.

How Much Bottled Water Do People Drink?

According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, in 2011, the top 10 bottled water consuming countries consumed 61,370,000,000 gallons (yes billions) of bottled water.

The United States led the pack at 29.2 gallons per capita for a total of 9,107,000,000 gallons with a wholesale cost approaching $11,100,000,000.

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  • U.S. EPA publication Water On Tap What You Need to Know provides information on water safety, standards, how to get assistance with water concerns, how to protect our water sources, references, links and a glossary of water-related terms.
  • U.S. EPA publication Water Health Series Bottled Water Basics explains types of bottled water, safety, certification, and useful links.
  • International Bottled Water Association publication Bottled Water Reporter Apr / May 2012 contains information about the bottled water industry, facts and figures (includes those listed above), recycling, and a list of industry companies.