Bottled water to cost more
Three major companies in the business of bottled water surprised consumers by raising the prices of 5-liter water containers by up to SR2.
The companies operate in Makkah, Riyadh and Jeddah, with SR8 as the new price of a water container against the old price of SR6 to SR7.
Investors in the business justified the increase as a result of the high demand and consumption of bottled water during the season.
Meanwhile, distributors of water confirmed the increasing daily demand for water containers, up to 70 percent.
Mansour Al-Tassan, member of the committee of water manufacturers at Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), said clean, fresh, fit-to-drink water is available at “affordable” prices, ranging from 50 halalas to SR5 a bottle.
“There are six major water companies in Jeddah in addition to around 300 small and medium water plants, which are accessible to citizens and they certainly do not need to depend on the filtered water. There is absolutely no need to increase the prices,” he added.
Experts and investors in the bottled water business revealed as well an increase of 7 percent in water consumption across the Saudi market during the summer season and the month of Ramadan, which also coincided with the Umrah and Haj seasons.
They said the Kingdom is the biggest consumer of desalinated water in the world. The country has witnessed very large investments in the sector of bottled water exceeding SR6 billion with more than 400 factories in the business.
Rashid Mahfouz bin Zoma, an investor in the sector, confirmed that the consumption of bottled water increased during the summer months, and Umrah and Haj seasons.
“Saudi water manufacturers represent 70 percent of the total number of bottled water plants in the Gulf. The increase in the bountiful supply of bottled water levels off competition favoring consumers in the end,” he said.
Commenting on the increase in prices he said: “Factories will have to lower their prices to attract consumers. The current increase is probably temporary, because of the summer season and the holy month of Ramadan.”
The production capacity of these factories exceed 6.5 billion liters annually, he said, adding: “The Saudi Food and Drug Authority estimated the number of Saudi water factories to be 400, but I personally expect the actual number to be more than that because it includes all the factories that produce bottled water of 0.25-liter to 18-liter containers. This is bound to cover domestic consumption and there is even untapped capacity to take care of the growth of 4 to 5 percent a year.”
Operators in the retail business said the rise in the prices began at the start of this month.
Citizens have demanded that the authorities intervene and conduct inspection rounds on sales outlets, factories and retail shops to monitor the prices. In the absence of inspection, they added, the rise will prompt other companies to increase their prices.