Manila Water Total Solutions, the Ayala group’s bottled water business, is ready to expand outside Metro Manila amid a rapid expansion of its distributor network in the national capital.
Company general manager Sharon May D. Marcial said in an interview that the Healthy Family brand, offered in 5-gallon and 500-milliliter bottles, would be available in Laguna and Pampanga by 2018.
Marcial said Healthy Family now has close to 300 distributor-partners, barely two years after going commercial in 2015.
"We now have a customer base of 100,000, mostly households but also corporate accounts including large hotels and groups of companies,” she said.
Marcial added that sales were expected to continue surging at triple-digit rates, with this year’s volume on pace to the company’s goal of 500,000 5-gallon bottles.
“We plan to put up two new water purifying and bottling facilities, one in Laguna and another in Pampanga,” she said, describing Total Solution’s thrust to expand to the north and south of Metro Manila.
This would add to the five plants spread across the metropolis, which together account for about P500 million in capital expenditures.
Marcial said parent firm Manila Water Company Inc. (MWCI) decided to go into the bottled water business to address a demand that needed satisfying.
“It’s true, we (Manila Water) would still tell people that drinking water from the tap is best,” she said. “But if there’s demand, there should be a supplier.”
Marcial said there were two main reasons why consumers would still want to buy bottled water even if told that tap water was safe to drink.
One is that consumers do not trust the reticulated pipe systems in their homes — the plumbing network that is laid out after the water meter, which means that it is beyond the control of the water service provider like Manila Water.
“Another reason is taste preference,” Marcial said. “It turns out that drinking water from different sources have different tastes, and consumers have their personal preferences.”