If you’re getting into the bottled water industry, it’s important to remember that your target customers will probably be commercial enterprises, like grocery stores, gas stations, and convenience stores. But to make a dent in the saturated water industry (no pun intended,) you’ll need to target the end consumer. What are people who buy bottled water today looking for?
● Is your end-user looking for purified, infused, spring, or sparkling water?
● Are they concerned with the environment?
● Are they grabbing a quick drink or carrying their water with them throughout the day?
Once you have answers to these crucial questions, you can start to dig deep into exactly what it takes to start a water bottling plant.
How much does it cost to open a water bottling plant?
The buildings themselves have an incredibly low startup cost. Most plants start small or medium-sized, but the structure is essentially the same. You’ll need an open concept, warehouse-style environment. Prefabricated metal buildings are ideal. The steel structure doesn’t have any need for interior columns, leaving the inside of your plant open for assembly line equipment.
Equipment required for starting a water bottling operation includes:
● Storage tanks
● Filling machines
● Water treatment machines
● Water sterilizers
● Water dispensers
● Bottle loaders
● Boxes or shrink-wrap plastic
Many startups that stay small for some time can use employees rather than heavy equipment to save money in the beginning stages. For the most part, startup costs for a water bottling plant begin around $750,000 and can cost up to $1.5 million or more as the size of the operation increases.
You can expect costs for a license from the FDA and a permit from your state health department. Outside of the plant itself, you’ll also need to be connected with a water source and a reputable bottle supplier.
Is plastic still the best option?
Water canning got its start during the Civil War as part of emergency preparedness kits from the US Civil Defense Program. The idea was to extend the shelf life of drinking water – tin cans can hold water for upwards of ten years, significantly longer than the plastic we use to this day.
In recent years, large corporations like Miller-Coors have taken to canning drinking water in similar emergency situations like hurricanes and floods. Most consumers still see canned water as a last resort option, only available in the event of an emergency. Amazon only carries around four brands of canned water vs. hundreds of brands of drinking water bottled in plastic. So, the question remains, will consumers always associate their everyday drinking water with plastic bottles?
When starting a new water bottling company, exploring your options in aluminum cans is a great way to fulfill a future market need for two reasons:
- The burgeoning trend of insulated cups, like those produced by Yeti. Aluminum keeps drinks colder for longer. Aluminum cans for drinking water can cut out the middleman and save plenty of hard-earned dollars. Most insulated cups start at $20 a pop. Plus, cans can be designed with re-sealable caps rather than pop tops for drinking on the go.
- Cans are green. An aluminum can is 100% recyclable. Many municipalities have gone so far as to ban plastic drinking bottles in their communities. Brands claim that plastic bottles are recyclable, but the bottles themselves and the caps are different types of plastic that require different recycling processes. More often than not, plastic bottles are landfilled rather than going through the lengthy process of sorting plastic by type.
Is it more expensive to bottle drinking water in cans?
The short answer is yes. For other types of beverages that are more sensitive to light and oxygen, like beer, glass and metal options are the cheapest bet. That’s because the plastic would need to be a certain thickness to withstand the pressure of carbonation, plus include a number of layers to keep light out.
Water doesn’t exert a great deal of pressure on its container and isn’t particularly sensitive to light and oxygen. You can use very thin plastic to bottle it, saving a great deal of money on packaging. But the difference between the cost of equipment to bottle with aluminum vs. plastic is not significant.
How will you stand out in the water bottling market? As aluminum cans for drinking water become more popular, consumers may grow to demand these greener options. States and municipalities that rally against single-use plastic may also have grants available or provide tax exemptions to green companies who are willing to go the extra mile to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
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