Picture this all-too-familiar scenario: you are on your way to the caf to grab some lunch or a quick snack between classes and you decide to grab a bottle of water while you’re there. Maybe you’ve realized that you forgot your reusable water bottle, or maybe you prefer the taste of cold bottled water over campus water fountains. Either way, you may have noticed recently that there are a lot of options when it comes to bottled water on-campus.
Glaceau Smartwater, a subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Co., is widely sold and consumed on campus. The company recently launched two new products in addition to their normal products: Smartwater Antioxidant and Smartwater Alkaline. Bon Appétit at USF got to showcase these new items for students long before most stores had them.
Although Bon Appétit cannot comment on how much they have made in sales from these new products, Micah Cavolo, manager of Bon Appétit at USF, said in an email, “We have adopted some of their marketing collateral, which might be contributing to the impression of an increased presence.”
Bon Appétit at USF declined to give numbers on student purchases of Smartwater.
The Coca-Cola Co. launched this new Smartwater line back in October 2018 and plans to nationally roll out these products in March.
Sophomore nursing major, Camreon Lyons, who lives on-campus, said that she doesn’t mind using her flexi dollars for SmartWater because they are the largest water bottles available in the cafeteria.
However, Lyons believes that the additional antioxidant and alkaline varieties do not bring anything new. “Students buy them thinking they’re healthier options,” she said in an email. “It’s a strategy for SmartWater and also a way for the caf to sell more given that students have more options that appear healthier than the regular SmartWater”.
Other students are not happy about having more Smartwater in the cafeteria.“I think that moving towards selling more water bottles is putting the University in a wrong direction,” junior Lavender Seasbody said. “I think that the SmartWater they sell is not only expensive, but unsustainable.”
The Coca-Cola Co. published an article on their website in October 2018 detailing Smartwater expansion in the premium bottled water market, and USF is taking part in this growth.
“Bottled water is the second-largest beverage category in the U.S. and continues to report strong growth,” the article said. “In 2017, premium ingredient-enhanced bottled waters like smartwater represented 75 percent of the bottled water category’s total value growth.”
ASUSF President Sage Hapke expressed concern about the University marketing Smartwater products to students.
“Plastic water bottles, even despite recycling efforts, have long-lasting damaging effects [to the earth],” Hapke said. “ASUSF Senate continues to pass out reusable water bottles through the ASUSF GIFT Fund (Green Initiative For Tomorrow) in hopes of eliminating this excessive usage of plastic, yet the University seems to disregard our own advocacy efforts yet again in exchange for making a quick buck,” Hapke said.