Tuesday, June 18, 2013

WATER POWER: The Old Standby Oulasts Pop to Reclaim the Title of America's Favorite Beverage (continued)

Stephen Ngo, a civil defense attorney, quit drinking pop a year ago when he started running triathlons and wanted a healthier way to quench his thirst.

Ngo, 34, has a Brita filter for tap water and also keeps his pantry stocked with bottled water.

"It might just be the placebo effect or marketing, but it tastes crisper", said Ngo, who lives in Miami.

The trend reflects Americans' ever-changing tastes; it wasn't too far back in history that tap water was the top drink.

But in the 1980s, carbonated soft drinks overtook tap as the most popular drink, with Coca-Cola and PepsiCo putting their marketing muscle behind their colas with celebrity endorsements from the likes of pop star Michael  Jackson and comedian Bill Cosby.

Americans kept drinking more of the carbonated, sugary drink for about a decade.  Then, pop's magic started to fade: Everyone from doctors to health advocates to government officials were blaming soft drinks for making people fat. Consumption started declining after hitting a high in the late 1990s.

At the same time, people started turning to bottled water as an alternative.  Its popularity was helped by the emergence of single-serve bottles that were easy to carry around.

The new soft drink-like packaging helped fast-track bottled water's growth past milk and beer.  In fact, the amount of bottled water Americans drink has risen nearly every year for more than two decades, while the estimates of how much tap water people drink has fluctuated during that time. When taken together, water finally overtook pop in 2008, according to Beverage Digest.  (It's difficult to track how much tap water people drink and how much is used for other things like washing dishes, so experts estimate consumption.

Analysts expect water to hold onto its top spot for years to come.  But whether people will drink from the tap or bottle is uncertain.

Source: Omaha World Herald and The Associated Press