KANSAS CITY – Beverage makers are focused on making water more flavorful and functional while minimizing the addition of ingredients like sugar some consumers may perceive as unhealthy. In a span of days in early July, beverage makers as varied as Nestle, Tree Top and newcomer Treo introduced varieties targeting both children and adults.

Bottled water, which topped carbonated soft drinks as the No. 1 beverage by volume in 2016, grew in 2019, according to The Beverage Marketing Corp. (BMC), New York, a consultancy that tracks industry trends. The category’s core characteristics — convenient, healthful, natural and calorie-free — continue to appeal to US consumers. Volume enlarged by almost 4% and retail sales advanced by more than 5% during the year.

Value-added water, a category tracked by BMC separate of bottled water, includes regular and low-calorie enhanced waters, flavored water, alkaline water and essence water. Between 2018 and 2019, the BMC said value-added water volume grew 8.5% and retail sales grew 10.6%, the most significant change of any other category, albeit from a smaller base than other categories like bottled water, carbonated soft drinks and ready-to-drink coffee.

New entrants to the category include Fruity Water, a product from Nestle SA, Vevey, Switzerland, sold under the Pure Life brand and formulated with water, natural flavors and electrolytes and intended for children. The fruit cooperative Tree Top, Yakima, Wash., introduced Fruit+Water, a low sugar beverage packaged in pouches.

“Knowing we’re owned by fruit growers, parents trust Tree Top and our quality fruit-based products,” said Brooke Goodrich, senior product manager at Tree Top. “Tree Top Fruit+Water pouches can give parents peace of mind for healthy hydration on the go without the sugar overload. Kids will love the natural fruit sweetness, not to mention the playful package designs.”

Colin McCabe, the co-founder of Chopt Creative Salad Co., recently introduced Free Rain, a functional sparkling water line. Available in three varieties, the new line focuses on the functional benefits of energy, focus and calm.

Energy contains Siberian ginseng, an adaptogen known to lift energy and increase physical stamina. It is paired with cherry and lime to give a caffeine-free boost. Focus contains ashwagandha, used to maximize presence and sharpen the mind, along with blood orange and warming ginger. The third variety, Calm, combines passionflower and blackberry to ease the mind and relax the body.

View slideshow of value-added waters