Sri Lanka’s bottled water sector continues to build on its strengths

Shanil Perera

Your take on the importance of water
Water is the essence of life. It is one of the most valuable resources in the world and vital to all known forms of life.

Water situation across the world
Oceans, seas and bays account for more than 95 percent of the global distribution of water resources while freshwater constitutes 1.2 percent of the Earth’s surface.

Performance of the bottled water market last year
The global bottled water market size was valued at US$ 217 billion last year.

Outlook for the bottled water market over the next few years
It is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of slightly over 11 percent between 2021 and 2028.

Three strengths of the bottled water sector in the present landscape
The comparative advantage as a product of Sri Lanka, the importance of water as the essence of life and the convenience of bottled drinking water.

Three weaknesses of the bottled water sector
There’s serious competition with more than 200 brands in Sri Lanka, a price war and compromising quality due to price controls by the authorities.

New prospective customer segments
The corporate sector, domestic use and ‘on the go’ segments.

Evolving consumer trends
Quality consciousness, environmental concerns and convenience of the product.

Barriers to the bottled water sector’s growth
Price controls, negative perceptions of the authorities and the high cost of packaging materials.

Your thoughts on gender balance in the sector
There is no gender discrimination – it’s all about your suitability to work according to the job function.

Impact of COVID-19 on the sector
Although the domestic sector was strong at the height of the pandemic, the corporate and hospitality sectors’ low buying power has negatively affected bottled water sales.

Initiatives to enhance the beverage sector in the post-pandemic period
Product diversification through value addition and changing the balance of our customer portfolio.

Sri Lanka’s competitiveness in a few words
We have a comparative advantage due to low production costs and high quality sources of water.

Your take on diversifying the beverage sector in Sri Lanka
As Sri Lankans, we should benefit from our comparative advantage by producing low-cost and high quality products to suit international market standards.

Regional beverage sector in a nutshell
It is highly developed and competitive.

Local vs regional production in a sentence
Local production should be developed by introducing modern technology to achieve economies of scale.

Measures to reach millennials and gen Z
Product communication and distribution should be carried out using social media more than in the past.

Ability of influencers to help sustain businesses
Influencers help reach millennials faster and more cost effectively.

Impact of the digital age on Sri Lanka
Perceptions on advertising and distribution have changed due to the digital age.

Sri Lanka’s readiness for tech adoption
It’s positive but slow due to the lack of infrastructure and capital.

Virtual team management in a sentence
A ‘better normal’ for doing business.

Impact of social media on the world at large
Social media is changing the world and how we do business by identifying lifestyles.

Productivity is affecting industrial and economic growth
No – productivity is key for the growth of industries and economies.

Corruption is affecting industrial and economic growth
Yes – corruption affects the quality and standard of the product.

Competition drives innovation
Yes – it leads to new innovations, and these lead to new markets and better margins.

Your vision for the next five years
To develop the international export market through product innovation and diversification.

Your mantra for success
Product quality through standards.

– Compiled by Ashwini Vethakan
Shanil Perera is the Director and Chief Operating Officer of Access Natural Water (Aquafresh)