Ever wonder how a bottling plant operates? The International Bottled Water Associate (IBWA) has put out a YouTube video titled “The Inner Workings of a Bottled Water Plant” that gives viewers an inside peek into the how bottled water is produced – from its sourcing, to purification, labeling, and finally readying for delivery. Bottled Water Matters (IBWA’s consumer website) sends a correspondent to visit IBWA member Robert Smith’s “Grand Springs” bottling facility in Alton, Va. The video provides an insightful look at the numerous steps involved in producing bottling water—both single-serve and home and office delivery (HOD). Click below to see the video.
The video is designed to help explain that many steps are involved in producing bottled water, from sourcing the water through to delivering it to the customer. “In this video, we wanted to give a quick but straight forward tour of how bottled water is produced—thus revealing the care, scientific oversight, and pride water bottlers take in producing a safe, convenient, and healthy product,” said Tom Lauria, IBWA vice president of communications.
After watching the video, a few questions are raised about the bottled water’s production system. This production facility appears to be very machine intensive (non-labor driven) thus driving down costs for production as everything is automated. On the purification process, it’s fascinating to see how stringent the process is for inspection and testing to make sure the water is safe for consumers. And on the packaging and labeling side, it’s quite easy to see just how inexpensive and generic bottled water really is as this facility produces water for over 1000 different companies.
Though we have not see water recalled regularly for production issues, there’s always room for error. Maybe they mention is as a process, but I did not notice production being halted until inspection and testing is completed. Therefore, if the quality assurance analyst finds a problem the bottled may already be packaged and shipped out. Furthermore, how are batch production numbers identified in case such a problem occurs?
On the labeling aspect, it’s quite easy to see just how important branding becomes. Once the label is stripped off, these bottles all look identical. That’s why companies are now looking for innovations beyond the label and onto the bottle themselves. For Canada, there are a few central bottled water brands (Nestle Waters, Dasani, Aquafina, Evian, etc) and all of their bottles look different from one another. This serves as their point of differentiation so that even without the label, the brand of water can be recognized (think of how even without the label people can still recognize Coca-Cola by the shape of their contour bottles). Even Evian has invested in limited-edition designer bottles each year to differentiate themselves from other bottled water companies. What comes next? Maybe innovation and branding on the bottle cap themselves since people generally collect the bottle caps.
Through it all, this video by IBWA gives a good inside look at how water is produced and raises some more questions and observations on not only production but marketing as well. At the very least, consumers sensitive to price rather than branding can just go and pick up the cheapest generic water they want since it likely came from the same production facility as the more expensive one down the aisle.