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    Editor’s Note: Hydrating Sales With H&W

    According to the “Beverage Trends: Culinary Trend Mapping Report” from the San Francisco-based Center for Culinary Development and Rockville, Md.-based Packaged Facts, the sweet spot in the U.S. beverage market, long dominated by a handful of major brand lines, is shifting to niche products that target a diverse set of consumer needs driven by healthy attributes.

    By Michelle Moran

    According to the “Beverage Trends: Culinary Trend Mapping Report” from the San Francisco-based Center for Culinary Development and Rockville, Md.-based Packaged Facts, the sweet spot in the U.S. beverage market, long dominated by a handful of major brand lines, is shifting to niche products that target a diverse set of consumer needs driven by healthy attributes.

    Grocers should take note of several trends from the report, including the rise of retro beverages inspired by trendy cocktails making a comeback, as well as handcrafted, artisan beverages. Another focus for consumers will be health — Packaged Facts refers to the trend as Holistic Wellness. These drink formulations draw on centuries of ancient wisdom, often based in Asia. Think kombucha, ayurvedic and aloe-based beverages, all of which promise functional health benefits of one kind or other.

    At the middle stage of the Trend Map is coconut water, a refreshing and electrolyte-packed tropical treat. Thanks to recent advances in technology and packaging, coconut water has drifted from beachside to store shelf, where single-serve packages boast an impressive range of health benefits. Coconut water is a rich source of potassium, calcium and magnesium, has no fat or cholesterol, is relatively low in sugar, and purportedly can help regulate blood pressure and maintain heart health.

    The market potential for on-trend new beverages remains significant, with diverse segments ranging from Gen Y teens to savvy Gen X parents and sporty boomers looking for what’s next in healthful and premium new drinks. “Because of this diversity in consumer demographics and psychographics,” emphasizes Kimberly Egan, CEO of the Center for Culinary Development, “the beverage market is an arena with plenty of room for growth and innovation.”

    Packaged Facts recommends a change in marketing strategies as the beverage landscape has changed as consumers have embraced new drink options. The success of innovative niche beverages leads to the challenge of creating a large enough volume opportunity among the need states consumers are demanding. Suggestions such as one that marketers shift broad definitions, including as “Refreshment” or “Breakfast,” and recast categories to identify benefits, such as RTD drinks that are “Refreshingly Real” or breakfast OJ that is a “Morning Energizer.”

    Here are some recent introductions that mirror the report’s trend analysis:

    Healthy Hints
    Hint, whose mantra is Drink Water, Not Sugar®, is the brainchild of Kara Goldin, a San Francisco-based mother of four who was seeking a refreshing, unsweetened and no-calorie beverage to give her family. Her simple solution — Hint Essence Water. Launched in 2005, she developed Hint in response to the growing wall of sugary juices and sodas. Hint is available in 13 delicious flavors, including the newest flavors, Hibiscus Vanilla, Watermelon, Honeydew Hibiscus and Blackberry, as well as Mango-Grapefruit, Pomegranate-Tangerine, Lime, Raspberry-Lime, Peppermint, Pear, Tropical Punch, Cucumber and Strawberry Kiwi. For more information, call 866-895-4468 or visit www.drinkhint.com.

    Drink More Coconuts
    Previously only available in an 11-ounce size, the new 1-liter Tetra Pak containers of ZICO Pure Premium Coconut Water flavored varieties help meet growing demand for the exotic beverage in a larger, resealable package, while also offering greater value. All-natural Mango and Passion Fruit varieties have now joined ZICO Natural as available 1-liter options. Made from 100 percent pure coconut water, the sports drink alternative contains no added fat, sugar, carbs or acidity, and provides more potassium than a banana and four additional naturally occurring electrolytes in a single 60-calorie serving, according to Hermosa Beach, Calif.-based ZICO Beverages, LLC. The suggested retail price is $5.45. For more information, visit www.zico.com.

    Consumer Choice
    vitaminwater’s flavorcreator lab (http://www.facebook.com/vitaminwater) competition resulted in the newest black-cherry vitaminwater with vitamins A to zinc plus caffeine. The new product won’t be available until March 2010. But, in the meantime, Facebook fans have the opportunity to design the label for the new bottle and take a stab at drafting some clever copy describing the flavor and function. After the Facebook fans vote for their top 10 label designs, vitaminwater partners Carrie Underwood (who is well aware of America’s fascination with voting for their favorites) and 50 Cent (the first to co-create his own variety [m] formula 50) will help choose the winning designer who will be awarded with eternal fame and a $5,000 prize. For more information, call 877-glaceau.

    Spring Fling
    Summit Spring, bottled water from one of the oldest and most revered natural flowing springs in North America, has unveiled a new, modernized packaging hitting shelves in September. Summit Spring Water is one of a select few bottled waters to carry the state of Maine’s “Premium Grade” designation, meeting the very stringent quality and testing guidelines developed by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. Summit is also the first and only bottled-water company allowed membership in MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association), another distinguished and respected organization that enforces very strict rules and requirements for membership. For more information, visit www.summitspring.com.

    Metroelectro
    San Francisco-based Soma Beverage Company, LLC has created “the world’s first micronutrient water,” Metroelectro, a combination of purified water and vital nutrients, containing antioxidants to protect cells from damage, electrolytes to replenish essential minerals, and zinc to boost the immune system. Metroelectro has no sugars, sweeteners, artificial ingredients or calories. Metroelectro is now also available in a 1-liter bottle, joining the 20-ounce bottle launched last summer. For more information, visit www.metroelectro.com.
     

    Sustainable Choices
    Proving that bottled water can be earth-friendly, Native Waters, LLC introduced Native Water in July, a sustainable bottled water in environmentally friendly packaging. Locally sourced and packaged in biodegradable bottles, Native Water is 100 percent natural, organic and pure while making minimal environmental impact. Native Water is sourced from Chester Hill Springs, located in the heart of the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts. Native Water is bottled in ENSO Bottles, a biodegradable PET plastic bottle. The bottles are produced with Ecopure™, an additive added to the plastic manufacturing process that allows the bottles to be metabolized and neutralized on a microbial level, breaking down the plastic. ENSO bottles maintain the same physical properties and strengths as existing PET plastic bottles yet provide a more shelf-stable solution than starch-based PLA materials and oxo-degradable plastics. The bottles are biodegradable in both landfill and compost environments, and can also be successfully mixed with standard PET plastic recycling. For more information, visit www.earthfriendlybottle.com.

    Floral Varieties
    What do you get when you mix lemon verbena with rose geranium, or lemongrass with mint and vanilla? What about lavender blended with thyme, or cloves with cardamom and cinnamon? Mix them into pure artesian well water and the results are flavors that are truly unique. Ayala’s Herbal Water has added a new flavor to its line of waters [m] Lemon Verbena Geranium. The Lemon Verbena Geranium flavor is infused with aromatic herbs and results in an unusually pure, fruity lemon note. It also has a clean fresh finish combined with a romantic floral touch. Ayala’s waters contain no calories, no preservatives, no artificial flavorings and they are completely sugar-free. For more information, visit www.herbalwater.com.

    TeaZazz Sparkles
    TeaZazz Sparkling Tea promotes its low-calorie attributes with such notes as “substitute a 20-oz. Pepsi for a 20-oz. TeaZazz … [and] by the end of a month, you will have cut approximately 3.5 lbs of sugar from your diet, or 42 lbs in an entire year.” The healthier alternative to soda, TeaZazz still provides the carbonated “pop” of soft drinks with the “good-for-you” essentials of tea. Available in four delicious varieties: Original, Green Tea Lemon, Green Tea Mint and Peach. The suggested retail price for a 20-ounce bottle of TeaZazz Sparkling Tea is $1.79. For more information, visit www.drinkteazazz.com.

    Urban Moonshine
    Urban Moonshine debuts an organic, handcrafted contemporary version of an Old World classic to stimulate digestion and mix with cocktails — bitters. In addition to their role in sparking the digestive process and enhancing appreciation for food, bitters have also been a mainstay of the beverage world. After bartenders discovered that bitters softened the harsh liquors of the day, the cocktail was born. Until the late 1880s, any drink called a cocktail contained bitters, including classics such as the Martini, the Manhattan and the Old-Fashioned. Offered in three flavors — Original, Citrus and Maple — Urban Moonshine uses only organically grown or ethically wild-crafted herbs. The company also makes handcrafted organic tonics, including: Immunity, Immune Zoom, Longevity and Chocolate Love. For more information, visit www.urbanmoonshine.com or call 802-428-4707.
     

    Adina Holistics
    Adina for Life, Inc., led by a team of entrepreneurs from Odwalla® and SoBe®, launched its new line of herbal elixirs, “Adina Holistics™,” this fall. The line taps into the 5,000-year-old “emerging trend” of ayurveda. Adina Holistics uses adaptogenic herbal extracts known to exert a normalizing influence on the body with flavors that include: Honey Lemon Aloe, Mango Orange Chamomile, Blackberry Hibiscus, Peach Amalaki and Honey Eucalyptus, in addition to the new flavors that were launched last month, Grapefruit Goji and Pomegranate Açaí. Adina has three product lines: its newest Adina Holistics™, launched in spring 2009; Natural Highs Coffee Energy; and Adina Tribal Blends, an organic fair trade line of exotic gourmet coffees and tea, launched in late 2007. For more information, visit the Adina Web site at www.AdinaWorld.com.

    By Michelle Moran
    • About Michelle Moran

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