By Bridget Wells

Statistics by Beverage Marketing Corporation show U.S. bottled water sales and consumption continuing to rise as consumers increasingly choose bottled water over other commercial beverages. This upward trend was reflected in 2004 bottled water consumption of nearly 6.8 billion gallons, an 8.6 percent increase over 2003 and a 2004 bottled water per capita consumption level of 23.8 gallons, compared to 22.1 gallons per capita the previous year.

These statistics demonstrate continued consumer demand and appreciation for the convenience and good taste of bottled water brands consumed on-the-go, during exercise, at restaurants, at home or the office. What consumers may not know is that bottled water safety and quality result from multiple layers of regulation and standards at the federal, state and industry levels.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates bottled water as a packaged food product with stringent standards for safety, quality, production, labeling and identity. State governments further regulate bottled water and for members of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), the industry requires additional standards through the IBWA Model Code, which are verified through annual, unannounced plant inspections by an independent, third-party organization.

Along with the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), which are required of all foods, bottled water must comply with several other applicable regulations, including Standards of Identity, Standards of Quality and additional, specific bottled water GMPs. Being a packaged food product, bottled water is also bound by the Nutrition Labeling Education Act (NLEA) and the full range of FDA protective measures designed to enforce product safety and protect consumers. States also have the authority to regulate bottled water and to inspect, sample, analyze and approve bottled water sources. Testing laboratory certification is another area where states may regulate bottled water. As part of the IBWA Model Code, association members voluntarily utilize the principles of HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) for a science-based approach to bottled water production and safety (see this month’s Water Matters column for a detailed explanation of HACCP). FDA recognizes HACCP as a key component of food safety and consumer protection.

As the bottled water industry reaches new heights, customers, consumers, regulators and lawmakers continue to demand bottled water’s consistent safety and quality. Add to that bottled water’s convenience and good taste and you have an industry that must embrace technologies and processes that enable it to produce the best product possible, while still maintaining profitability, high levels of service and production and distribution efficiency.

At the forefront of the industry, the IBWA provides opportunities throughout the year for education and training, and presents a variety of forums to foster interaction among the industry’s bottlers, suppliers and distributors. IBWA is committed to nurturing innovation and the exchange of ideas to help write new chapters in the bottled water success story. Innovation can come in the form of one good idea or a new relationship, and the IBWA Convention and Trade Show—“Quality Through Innovation,” September 27-30, 2005 in Orlando, Fla., balances all the elements to deliver a total state-of-the-art event.

Who should attend?
Anyone and everyone who has an interest in the bottled water industry should be at the show; including bottlers, manufacturers, marketers, distributors, suppliers, food technologists and newcomers of every ilk. Attendees keep up-to-date on technologies and trends that will put you ahead of your competitors in a constantly changing industry.

If you are serious about the bottled water business, interested in checking out the latest products and services, learning how to improve your business, keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry and networking with influential people, then the IBWA Convention and Trade Show is where you need to be. Industry professionals from around the world will converge on the Orange County Convention Center and the Rosen Centre Hotel at the premier convention and trade shows of its kind.

The IBWA Convention and Trade Show offers attendees and exhibitors a real-world marketplace where they can connect with decisive buyers, quality products and services and a broad base of educational programs designed to drive business growth, heighten profitability and increase real-world knowledge of key industry technology, issues, trends and innovations.
Exhibitors

At no other time during the year will your company have such a convenient and efficient means to reach a concentrated and influential group of buyers in one location.

The IBWA trade show brings the bottled water industry together under one roof. You will find more opportunities than ever to network, to learn and to source equipment, products and services. Plus, IBWA social events allow members to catch up with all that’s happening in the industry with friends old and new.

General session and special events
Below is a schedule of the events planned by IBWA during the convention and trade show. Remember, with so many unique exhibitors and new technologies on display at the show, this list of activities is by no means exhaustive, but will give you an excellent opportunity to plan your stay and prepare for the show.

Conclusion
The 47th Annual IBWA Convention and Trade Show delivers the key information and contacts necessary for the industry to continually innovate and enhance bottled water safety and quality. It is simply the single, best event to find creative solutions and share tools, techniques and best practices, as well as an opportunity to position your product and generate leads from a one-of-a-kind, qualified audience of national and international bottlers, distributors and suppliers. The IBWA Convention and Trade Show is the one opportunity of the year to efficiently reach a targeted and influential audience of bottled water suppliers and buyers. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.

About the author
Bridget Wells is the Manager of Commu-nications for the International Bottled Water Association, the authoritative source of information about all types of bottled waters. Founded in 1958, IBWA’s membership includes U.S. and international bottlers, distributors and suppliers. IBWA is committed to working with the FDA, which regulates bottled water as a packaged food product, and state governments to set stringent standards for safe, high quality bottled water products. In addition to FDA and state regulations, the Association requires member bottlers to adhere to the IBWA Model Code, which mandates additional standards and practices that in some cases are more stringent than federal and state regulations. A key feature of the IBWA Model Code is an annual, unannounced plant inspection by an independent, third party organization. Consumers can contact IBWA at 1-800-WATER-11 or log onto IBWA’s web site (www.bottledwater.org) for more information about bottled water and a list of members’ brands.

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