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Coca-Cola May Sell Bottled Water

Coca-Cola Co. plans to take a piece of the $4 billion-a-year bottled-water market by selling its own brand of purified water next year, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The soft-drink giant, which has sold mostly sugar water for the last 112 years, will introduce plain water in plastic bottles in selected markets early in 1999 and nationally later, said the Journal, citing people familiar with the company's plans.

The water would come from the tap or wells before purification and the addition of minerals. The brand's name likely would be Dasani.

Industry executives say Coke officials are eager to enter the market, which has grown rapidly during the last few years.

Several Coke bottlers have lobbied the company for a national water brand. Some have said they would pay Coke a royalty in exchange for its marketing clout behind a bottled water, the Journal reported.

Pepsi Cola Co., the nation's second biggest soft drink company, entered the water business in 1994 with Aquafina, the best-selling water brand at convenience stores and gas stations.

The leader in the bottled-water business is Perrier Group, which owns Poland Spring, Arrowhead, and other brands.

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