Boosting bottled water

by Jeff Gelski
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Bottled water sales have risen recently, and some predict the trend will continue for years. Still, manufacturers may enter their bottled water products into another growing category, functional beverages, by giving them a boost, say with vitamins and calcium.

Annual per-capita consumption of bottled water in the United States reached 196.5 occasions in 2006, up from 136.4 in 2001, according to "Consumer Hot and Soft Drink Preferences: New Trends & Future Perspectives," a report released in December 2007 by Datamonitor. The report predicted a 7% compound annual growth rate to 276.3 occasions by 2011.

The report predicted the number of per-capita annual functional drink occasions in the United States to hit 114 by 2011, which would be up from 87 in 2006.

"Functional drink occasions are growing as consumers take a preventative and convenience-driven approach to consumption," the report said. Datamonitor added manufacturers should emphasize the benefits that bottled water offers over tap water.

Fortifying bottled water also may prove helpful during a "bottled water backlash" predicted by Lynn Dornblaser, director of research consultancy for Mintel International, Chicago. Ms. Dornblaser put "bottled water backlash" among 10 predictions for 2008 given in a "What’s New in New Products" presentation at the F.M.I. Show in Las Vegas on May 5.

Consumers are asking questions about landfill issues and packaging associated with bottled water, Ms. Dornblaser said. She predicted a shift away from plain bottled water to flavored and fortified products.

Innophos, Cranbury, N.J., had the bottled water market in mind, along with several other beverage categories, when it introduced its VersaCAL Clear ingredient last year. The soluble calcium phosphate, promoted for its ability to work in clear beverages, may provide an excellent source of calcium and phosphorous, both known for developing healthier bones.

Covering all food and beverage categories, U.S. sales of products promoted for their calcium presence reached $9.4 billion in the 52-week period ended April 19, up 3% from the previous 52-week period and up 10% from four years ago, according to The Nielsen Co., New York.

Potassium is known for its use in sports beverages because it’s an electrolyte, but now it’s being used to fortify other beverages, such as ready-to-drink and instant beverages, said Amr Shaheed, technical service manager, beverage applications, for Innophos.

Customers of Innophos this year are developing beverages with VersaCAL Clear, Mr. Shaheed said. A fortified beverage with VersaCAL Clear should be introduced late this year, said Chris Pelkey, business manager.

Ingredient suppliers will promote fortified waters at the "The Best of Food Thinking 2008," the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition June 28 to July 2 in New Orleans.

Univar USA, Redmond, Wash., will present a "Rogue Refresher" fortified with vitamin C and calcium. With one twist, the water will become a sugar-free red tea drink with pomegranate flavor.

GTC Nutrition, Golden, Colo., will hold a press conference June 30 to explain how its Aquamin soluble ingredient may work in clear beverages. Aquamin is a natural source of calcium from seaweed.

ICL Performance Products LP, St. Louis, offers Benephos, a polyphosphate.

"Phosphates are extremely versatile in beverage applications and can be used in most any beverages, including fruit juices, smoothies, waters, coffees, R.-T.-D. teas and dairy-based beverages," said Nadeen Myers, a food phosphate specialist for ICL.

Datamonitor data show baby boomers as an active demographic in purchasing fortified foods and beverages, Ms. Myers said.

"However, consumers of all ages are driving the increased sales of fortified beverages for multiple reasons," she said. "Baby boomers are looking for a self-help way to stay healthy in an effort to avoid prescription medications. Parents are turning to fortified fruit juices for their children."

The portability of beverages allows people to consume fortification on the go, Mr. Shaheed said.

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Food Business News, June 24, 2008, starting on Page 86. Click
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