Beverages and bottled mineral water have become pricier alongside other essential commodities, adding more woes to average consumers.
The price of a 1.5-litre water bottle has increased to Tk30 from Tk25, and two-litre to Tk35 from Tk30, according to groceries and confectioneries in the capital.
Moreover, a five-litre bottle of mineral water has jumped to Tk80 from Tk75. However, the price of a 0.5-litre water bottle remains the same for now.
But in the case of carbonated beverages like Coca-Cola, 7up and Mountain Dew, the prices of the smaller bottles have increased while the prices of bigger bottles remain static.
Among these, the price of a 250-ml Coca-Cola bottle has been increased from Tk20 to Tk25 and a bottle of the same size Mountain Dew, a product of American beverage company PepsiCo, has been increased from Tk15 to Tk25.
According to leading water and beverage manufacturing companies, the increased cost of production and distribution has led to the price hike of water and soft drinks.
The cost of importing raw materials for making PET [polyethylene terephthalate – a clear, strong, and lightweight plastic widely used for packaging foods and beverages] bottles has played a major role in increasing the price of water, they said.
Partex Group Assistant General Manager (Brand) Md Nahid Yusuf told The Business Standard, "Partex Group imports the raw materials of PET bottles from Dubai and Saudi Arabia. The prices of these raw materials have increased by up to 30%, and the freight charges have also gone up, which drove the production cost up."
"Besides, we had to increase our distribution cost in the country as well due to various reasons including the fuel price hike that resulted in higher transportation cost," he said.
"If the prices of raw materials come down, we will consider readjusting the prices of water again," Nahid Yusuf added.
Partex Group is one of the leading brands producing and marketing mineral water in Bangladesh. The prices of its 'Mum' water bottles have gone up by about 25% in retail. Similarly, the prices of another popular water brand 'Kinley', owned by the Coca-Cola company, have also gone up.
However, the price of a two-litre bottle of Meghna Group's 'Fresh' was increased to Tk35 but reverted to the previous price within a few days.
Yasin Arafat, a salesperson of Bikrampur Varieties Store in Dhaka's Karwan Bazar, said, "One or two companies have increased the prices of their bottled water. But the prices have gone up for bottles above one litre. Smaller bottles are being sold at previous rates."
Visiting various grocery stores and Super Shops, only a few brands' water bottles were seen available for sale in the stores including Mum, Fresh, Kinley, Aquafina, Jibon, Pran, and Wasa's Shanti.
Retailers said that when one or two brands increase the price of a product, other companies follow. Now two-three brands have increased the prices of bottled water, and the rest are in the process of doing so.
Company officials said the water market in the country now stands around Tk1,000 crore with 35-40 crore litres of bottled water being sold every year.
Most major consumer goods manufacturers now have water businesses. More than 30 brands of bottled water are sold across the country, including multinational companies like Coca-Cola's Keenly, PepsiCo's Aquafina, Meghna's Fresh, City Group's Jibon, Pran RFL's Pran, and ACME Group's ACME Premium Drinking Water.
Demand for bottled water is growing at a rate of 15-20% every year in Bangladesh. However, in the first year (2019) of the coronavirus pandemic, the water business dropped by half, but now the market is back to normal, said Md Nahid Yusuf, assistant general manager (Brand) Partex Group.
According to industry insiders, the bottled water business started in Bangladesh in the 1990s. At that time the use of bottled water was popular among affluent people but the situation changed gradually as bottled water became popular among the public. Currently, people are drinking bottled water regularly when they go to hotels, restaurants, offices, ceremonies and travel.