The water sector includes the distribution of drinking water as well as the production and marketing of bottled water.
The water market in France is worth 2 billion euros (source: agromedia.fr). In public procurement, contracts are negotiated through public bids. These contracts are extremely important for the stakeholders in the sector because they ensure markets for many years to come.
The distribution of drinking water in the market is restricted by the long-standing players Veolia and Suez Environnement, despite a market liberalization that dates back to the 1980s. The bottled water market is highly concentrated because the companies need to produce high volumes to be profitable.
The sector is atypical as markets are managed locally by national companies. Calls for bids from each municipality affect network management. Regarding mineral waters, the sector regularly sees leaders increase their brand portfolios. The mineral water market is a market of volumes that forces companies to increase their production rates to reduce their break-even points.
The sector is in some ways highly politicized. The public procurement allocation system is based on policy makers who are responsible for allocating contracts that run for many years. In addition, the organisations in the sector must ensure that the proposed water is safe, and controls are extremely frequent and sophisticated to guarantee it.
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