Blue Waters increases by $1-3 but…Hadeed: Bottled water still cheapest on the market

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A conveyor machine at the Blue Waters facility in Orange Grove Estate, Trincity. – File photo by Angelo Marcelle

BLUE WATERS’ bottled-water products now cost $1-3 more per case, depending on the size.

But that increase is hardly substantial for one of the cheapest products on the market for some 25 years, says the company’s managing director Dominic Hadeed.

The company issued a notice to its customers on January 17, advising of an increase of $1 per case (24 bottles) for the 410ml, 500ml and five-gallon sizes and $3 for the 650ml, 1.5l, 5l and 8l.

Cases of Aqua Pur water (330ml and 500ml) also increased by $1, as well as other products under alkaline water, Juse Cran and Tampico brands, from $1-3 per case. The increases were effective from February 1.

Blue Waters said it had “been faced with varying increases in production costs, driven primarily by raw material increases and other macroeconomic factors.

“As a strategic partner, we have and will continue to absorb as much increasing costs as possible to ensure we provide quality products at affordable prices.

Hadeed told Newsday it was the company’s first general price increase since 2016, and works out to about four cents per bottle.

That said, the prices of bottled water are considerably lower than when he founded the business in 1999.

“Where you may see a (noticeable) change is in the supermarket, by a dollar.”

Still, he said, bottled water is still affordable to consumers, and even more so than two decades ago.

“There’s nothing you could buy for the same price 25 years ago, far less for one-third of the price.

“Bottled water has actually been the cheapest thing ever in Trinidad, and when I started the business 25 years ago, it was as little as $72 a case. And now in the grocery, you can get it for $20.”

Blue Waters managing director Dominic Hadeed. – File photo by Angelo Marcelle

Ultimately, he said the company was forced to make the decision to “keep up with the wages that we had to (adjust) and obviously operating costs have gone up,” he said. He said his workers do not earn the minimum wage, but would have seen their salary increased by $3, the same rate at which the minimum wage was increased.

“We don’t like to raise prices, but I think that one was necessary.”

He said he was surprised the increase even made news.

“It’s so insignificant.”

Hadeed also said there was no shortage of water, and scarcity had not been a factor.

Newsday also spoke with a representative at Blue Mountain Water, who said the company last increased its prices at the end of 2021 and does not intend to do so in the near future.

“Since then, we’ve more or less had a stable price list. (We also) do not have any particular intentions right now to increase our prices. Of course, we try to keep things as competitive as possible and always try to get the best prices for our customers.”

If the company does adjust its prices, it said it will give customers sufficient notice before doing so.

The representative said he is aware that competing companies and even many business unrelated to the industry have decided to increase their prices, owing to factors including the increased cost of raw materials, the minimum wage increase and increased T&TEC power rates.

“Of course, that’s understandable, but we’re still trying our best to see how best we can negate that as it relates to our customers and still keep our prices as low as possible across the board.”

He said, perhaps because of the business model and processes, Blue Mountain does not feel compelled to raise its prices.

“I guess it has a lot to do with our specific process as well, which again has stayed static across the board for the past decade and more, and so a lot of the things that are impacting other companies right now aren’t necessarily hitting us as hard.”

Newsday was unable to reach representatives of Oasis (SM Jaleel) and Caribbean Bottlers to ascertain if they were planning any increases in their bottled-water prices.