Consumers: Bottled water labelled a `con'

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Bottled water is "one of the greatest cons of the 20th century", due to it being "vastly overpriced" with little to "differentiate it from tap water" according to water companies.

Announcing the results of a review of the multi-million pound bottled water industry, Pamela Taylor, chief executive of the Water Companies Association (WCA), said yesterday that bottled water was "marketing's answer to the emperor's new clothes". David Alexander, chairman of the WCA's technical committee, said that while a litre of tap water cost on average 0.07p, a litre of bottled water costs 50p. "That's the same sort of price differential which exists between a Ford Escort car and a light aircraft," he said.

But the British Soft Drinks Association immediately hit back, describing its business as "highly successful". Robert Hayward, director general, said: "The growth is the result of consumer choice." Last year the UK market consumed 800 million litres of bottled water.