Tap water is becoming a popular drink, according to The NPD Group's new report, Beverages at Foodservice: Satisfying Our Thirst for Beverages. Out of the 50 billion beverage servings ordered at restaurants per year, tap water accounts for 4 billion -- or eight percent. Since 2006, tap water servings have increased by 2.8 billion while revenue-generating beverages declined by 2.7 billion servings. Free refills, lack of calories and budget concerns were some of the main reasons consumers cited for choosing tap water over other beverages. In contrast, sodas were passed over due to health concerns and price.
The beverages that saw the steepest declines in sale were carbonated soft drinks and brewed coffee; these categories represent 49 percent of all beverage servings. "Although the economy and high unemployment are factors in tap water's upswing and beverage servings declines, some beverages, like carbonated soft drinks were declining prior to the recession," Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst and author of the report, said in a statement.