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Plant Waters Make Waves This Summer

by Jill Failla

Water’s top status among consumers looking for healthful hydration has catapulted this category’s sales in recent years. This is especially true as water establishes itself as a more healthful and, now, equally flavorful alternative to caloric beverages that contain sugar – an ingredient that’s higher on consumers’ list of concerns lately. Flavored sparkling waters have long been a popular choice, but SPINS data shows that plant waters (such as coconut water and tree waters like birch and maple) are gaining ground in both refrigerated (RF) and shelf-stable (SS) sets as consumers look for increased functionality, in addition to flavor and refreshment.

In terms of growth and market share, flavored sparkling waters are a very popular shopper pick. Sales grew 23.7% over last year to an annual market of $1.3 billion. As a smaller subset of the market, plant waters’ growth proves notable, as well. Sales of refrigerated and shelf-stable plant waters (including coconut waters) also improved by 4.1%, amounting to a combined annual total of $509.8 million. Growth is especially impressive in SPINS’ RF COCONUT & PLANT WATER and SS PLANT WATER subcategories at 18.9% and 16.7%, respectively.

Among plant waters, coconut water is the biggest player in the game with over 80% of market share. While sales of traditional refrigerated and shelf-stable coconut waters have grown over the past year, blends of coconut water with other beverages (such as coffee, juice, and tea) are on the decline.

Although coconut water leads the pack, SPINS’ Product Library has visibility into several other rising contenders. A few emerging plant waters include aloe, maple, prickly pear/cactus, and other tree waters; together these plant waters tout a 22.1% year-over-year sales gain, growing to $82.1 million in annual sales.

Fresh flavors are also driving innovation in plant waters, just as they have done for flavored sparkling waters. The top flavor profile is pineapple, which shows up in 8.0% of all plant waters. SPINS data shows notable growth for several flavors in plant waters, including grapefruit, ginger, maple, lemon, and berry. Here are some of the new and standout plant-based water varieties and flavors we’re keeping our eye on:

In line with SPINS’ eye on maple water and grapefruit flavor trends, DRINKmaple unveiled a new Grapefruit Maple Water flavor at this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show. The maple water drinks are also kosher, Non-GMO Project Verified, and organic.

Pennsylvania-based organic beverage brand Steaz is expanding distribution of its lineup of organic Cactus Water drinks launched last year, including Cactus Water with Cucumber & Green Tea, Cactus Water with Green Tea, and Cactus Water with Starfruit & Green Tea. Each 12-ounce can contains the same amount of electrolytes as other functional waters, such as coconut water, but has almost half the calories and sugar. The brand makes functional benefit claims on the front of the can, including high antioxidant content and the ability to reduce inflammation.

ALO, known widely for its fruit-flavored aloe drinks, debuted its Aloe Coco aloe vera-infused coconut water at Expo West this year. The Non-GMO Project Verified beverage boasts five essential electrolytes and is also available in an Aloe Coco Watermelon variety.

 

Asarasi offers Sparkling Tree Water with a unique production story. By chance, the brand’s founder Adam Lazar learned that maple producers use only 3% of the sap they collect for syrup and other products, while the remaining 97% of pure tree water is discarded. Lazar redirected the would-be wasted water, added light carbonation, and began to market Asarasi as pure, tree-filtered water. After our researcher at the Summer Fancy Food Show brought us a bottle, our team agreed: with a unique flavor and conversation mission, Asarasi is unusually refreshing.

Only SPINS’ Product Library’s proprietary Channels and attributions can provide you with a granular look at the evolving and nuanced health & wellness trends transforming retail today. Want to know more? Contact your SPINS rep or email spinsinfo@spins.com to dig deeper into data on plant waters and other hot retail topics affecting your business.

SPINSscan Natural and Specialty Gourmet (proprietary), SPINScan Conventional Multi Outlet (powered by IRI), 52 weeks ending 2017-June-18.