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October 2003: Volume 45, Number 10

Triple Message in a Bottle -- Worldwide Food Expo, IBWA & WQA Mid-Year
by Carlos David Mogollón, WC&P Executive Editor

At the time of this writing, it looked as if Hollywood might have delivered a nasty fall preview to the water treatment industry in the form of a movie, "Matchstick Men," starring Nicholas Cage and Sam Rockwell.

In the film, Cage and Rockwell portray con artists selling "bargain-basement water filters bought by unsuspecting people who pay ten times their value in order to win bogus prizes like cars, jewelry and overseas vacations, which they never collect."

While the film did debut at No. 2 in its opening weekend, it fell to No. 6 by week two and was headed down fast after that. I have to admit to liking Cage as an actor, but maybe there is some justice in the world? That's a storyline we'd rather not see again—whether fiction or non-fiction.

Meanwhile, we learned a couple tidbits of news through the grapevine that we'd like to share: 1) Dennis Mangino has stepped down as president and CEO of NSF International, retiring after nine years. He is being replaced by Kevan Lawler, an 18-year NSF veteran whose previous positions there include CFO, senior vice president of its food safety division and president of NSF International Strategic Registrations Ltd., and 2) Culligan International announced to employees on Sept. 24 it was among holdings—that also include Everpure and USFilter's Systems and Industrial Services & Products businesses—being put up for sale by Veolia Environnement (formerly Vivendi) in a bid to cut off underperforming assets. Paris-based Veolia had just written off 2.2 billion Euros in the value of USFilter, which it bought in 1999 for $6.2 billion. Independent U.S. Culligan dealer C.R. Hall said it wasn't clear whether all three might find different owners, but added Culligan dealers always had an uneasy affiliation with USFilter as a competitor that made them reluctant to take full advantage of the closer relationship. He was optimistic a sale would provide additional incentive to resolve a dealer lawsuit with Culligan filed nearly nine months ago over franchise renewal contract issues.

Lastly, we had a good opportunity to speak with International Bottled Water Association president Joe Doss on the outlook for this month's Worldwide Food Expo at Chicago's McCormick Center, which combines the IBWA annual convention and WQA Mid-Year Leadership Conference. The event is expected to have 8-12 times the attendance of IBWA's last convention in Phoenix, which drew 2,500 people.

You'll find an exclusive Q&A-style interview with Doss attached to this Viewpoint (see below) that goes into detail on:

* A recent E Magazine exposé on the bottled water industry,

* Efforts in Maine with respect to restricting aquifer withdrawals and labeling laws,

* Efforts in Michigan/California/Mexico with respect to waste hauling/landfills and bottle recycling,

* California AB 83, which would reassign regulatory responsibility of bottled water to a utility overseer and require CCR-style water quality reporting on the label, and

* A brief update on Homeland Security, bioterrorism prevention and bottled water plants.

In terms of "groundwater resource management" issues, Doss points out that bottled water accounts for only 0.0003 percent of all withdrawals in the United States. He notes the Drinking Water Research Foundation is looking to better quantify that figure with research now under way. Regardless, he said, the IBWA tries to take a cooperative approach with governmental entities to try and reach a comprehensive solution based on good science and fair market issues.

Doss added the second year of IBWA's spinoff of its regional chapters into the European Bottled Watercooler Association, Asia Bottled Water Association and newly reorganized Latin American Bottled Water Association has proven effective under the auspices of the Canadian-based International Council of Bottled Water Associations. He said the IBWA also is happy to offer space for WQA Mid-Year meetings at the Chicago expo. The more the merrier.

For the latest schedules, see:

* WQA Mid-Year events, see: www.wqa.org/sitelogic.cfm?ID=1194

* IBWA events, see: www.bottledwater.org/public/2002home_main.htm

* Worldwide Food Expo: www.worldwidefood.com/fdbe/index.asp

It will be an interesting experiment to see how all of these organizations mesh under one umbrella. Considering the Worldwide Food Expo is a biannual event, though, a few of its traditional exhibitors—dairy, beverage and juice producers—have joined with the IBWA for next year's first BevExpo, to be held Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2004, in Tampa, Fla. That already shows promise of a lasting alliance.

Click here to view a followup article:
  Q&A -- Dialed in with IBWA`s Joe Doss