U.S. Water News Online
LONDON -- Proposed revisions to laws covering the bottled
water sector would consolidate and clarify various regulations in
existence across England. The revisions would clarify the detailed
legislative requirements governing the industry and reduce burdens on
bottled water producers and local regulators, the Food Standards
Agency (FSA) said in publishing the proposed changes.
The proposed law consolidates the requirements of the existing
1999 law governing producers and bottlers of natural mineral water,
spring water and bottled drinking water regulations 1999 as amended
by changes made in 2003 and 2004.
"The aim is to make the collective instructions more transparent
and user friendly," the FSA stated. "By incorporating text from the
parent directives it is anticipated that the need to cross-reference
will be reduced. By virtue of this consolidation, enforcement bodies
and stakeholders will be provided with a single statutory instrument
against which compliance with the regulations can be measured."
Some of the changes include the redrafting of the minimum hardness
requirement for spring water and drinking water that has been
softened or desalinated.
The requirement puts a limit by how much processors can soften or
desalinate water. Hardness consists of a complex mix of polyvalent
minerals, the main component of which is calcium. The calcium
concentration is there as an indicator of the hardness level present
in the water.
"The reason for this requirement is the large body of
epidemiological evidence that hardness in water has a benefit to
cardiac heart health, but it is not known exactly what it is in the
water hardness that causes the benefit," the FSA stated in guidance
notes accompanying the proposals.
Provisions for using infant feed claims on natural mineral water
may also be incorporated into the draft regulations if time permits,
the FSA stated.
The proposal on the infant feed claims are not included in the
draft text of the proposed regulation as it already went through the
consultation process last year, the regulator stated.
The FSA estimates that a technical or regulatory affairs manager
from any of the 64 UK bottled water producers spends about two to
three days on average working with local authorities discussing
Many companies also employ consultants to aid their work with
legislation. The regulator estimates that producers will be able to
achieve cost savings due to less pressure on the time of managers and
consultants and estimates this would amount to £79,000 in
savings every year by the bottled water industry.
The FSA also looked at the legislation's affect on small
businesses and found that the impact would be "insignificant."
The bottled water market in the UK was worth an estimated
£1.7 billion ($2.5 billion) in 2005, compared to £1.57
billion ($2.3 billion) in 2004. Consumers bought about two billion
liters in 2005.
Natural mineral water accounted for 56% of all bottled water
consumption by volume, while spring water or regular bottled drinking
water took a 27% share.
The remaining 17% of the volume sales were attributed to the soft
drink segment, made up of flavoured water, a product not directly
covered by the proposed regulation.
The UK's bottled water industry is dominated by six major brands
that share 54% of the market.
In 2005, the three leading brands of bottled water accounted for
15.6%, 13.5% and 6.4% of branded sales by volume. Private label
volume share stood at 46%. Danone is the dominant player, with the
UK's Highland Spring coming second.
About 50% of UK adults drank bottled water in 2004. The propensity
to purchase still bottled water is highest among those aged between
15 to 24 years. The age group accounted for 58% of the market. The
tendency to by bottled water declines with age to reach 26% among
those over 65 years of age.
The FSA plans on implementing the new legislation to come into
force on 1 October 2006.
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