You’ve heard of Dasani water? It should be called Alatoona, as in Lake Alatoona, just north of Atlanta, where Coca Cola takes in million gallons of that water, actually part of the Etowah watershed, covering a big chunk of north Georgia. Coke pays about .002 cents (that’s two hundredths of a cent) per gallon of that water and then processes it for sale at a typical retail price of around 4.68 per gallon.
You can start to see the economic tapestry and the weirdness when you consider that the Atlanta metro area is way overdeveloped for the amount of fresh water available, as evidenced by the drought of 2008. There is ongoing talk of tapping into the Tennessee River based on antique boundary maps which suggest a vague legal right to do that. So, with the high profitability and economic dependency on a product that we can get almost for free, it speaks of a very strange situation. Doesn’t it make you wonder where it will lead next, as water resources become increasingly strained?
What you’re paying for is access to clean water and portability, so you don’t have to include an 8-pound jug of filtered tap water in your briefcase. As you travel about, our product supply chain is in place to make sure that there is always a bottle handy. Delivery and keeping it cold in a glass-fronted refrigerator is what you pay for, that and advertising. Yes, a big part of that bottled water price is advertising, so when you see the billboard ad for something you can get for free, that’s not Coke paying for it, it’s you. Smart, eh?
For more on that, check out this excellent article from Creative Loafing.