Bottled water is perhaps one of the most resilient beverages on the market– and it’s also a category that has seen substantial innovation in recent years. One segment in particular is experiencing surprising growth as a fan favorite. Say hello to enhanced waters.

Okay, perhaps you’ve been introduced before– but even if you’re not new to the category, you might be surprised to learn more about what makes enhanced waters so special.

It’s More Than Just Water

To put it simply, enhanced waters are drinks marketed as water with added functional ingredients, usually vitamins and minerals; that’s also why they’re often referred to as vitamin water.

This type of beverage also typically contains a combination of natural and artificial flavors, sweeteners, and color to deliver a truly unique experience. In fact, many consumers prefer enhanced water over regular water simply because of the flavor possibilities it allows– the functional benefits are just a plus!

“Enhanced waters are often positioned as natural and health-forward, so they are designed to include ingredients or unique processing methods that support wellness or provide an added benefit,” says Flavorman’s Lab Manager, Katie Clark.

A standard enhanced water contains a laundry list of essential vitamins and minerals (like potassium, zinc, and niacin), but others– usually those on the more premium end of the scale– might include special ingredients such as protein or aloe vera juice.

Of course, functionality is only half the sell. What keeps consumers thirsty for more is flavor.

Enhanced water stands out among alternative water types for its bold flavor (think of something more akin to a juice than a seltzer or sparkling water).

The most popular enhanced water brands have traditionally boasted fruity flavors, like tropical mango, raspberry lime, and strawberry lemonade. But as consumer tastes become more sophisticated, producers are beginning to further elevate the category by introducing sophisticated botanical flavor combinations such as watermelon-mint, blackberry-sage, and blueberry-lavender. This follows with Flavor Trends expected to dominate in 2021.

How Enhanced Water Continues to Change What the World Is Drinking

In a recent report, data technology company SPINS found that the overall shelf-stable water segment grew 8.2 percent over the past year to $13.5 billion. But what’s impressive is how enhanced water performed. Outpacing the segment’s growth at 12.8 percent and amounting to a whopping $2.2 billion, enhanced water boasts a respectable 16.3% share of the category.

As brands continue to pack their drinks full of functional ingredients, beverage builders have their work cut out for them to ensure beverages like enhanced water can achieve a desired mouthfeel and flavor profile while delivering on anticipated benefits.

“The functional beverage category has become increasingly complex over the last several years,” says Flavorman’s Director of Beverage Development, Kristen Wemer. “Beverage developers are being asked to formulate drinks loaded with beneficial ingredients, each of which come with their own set of formulation challenges.”

Sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit are great choices for low-calorie enhanced waters, but they can create off-notes and a troublesome, lingering sweetness. Certain vitamins and minerals can also be challenging to the palate depending on usage rates and other factors.

“These are some of the reasons why the synchrony between our beverage and flavor development teams is so critical to Flavorman’s and our clients’ success,” says Clark.

“At Flavorman, we custom create our clients’ beverages, including each flavor that goes into their drink,” says Flavorman’s Chief Flavorist, Tom Gibson. “As a flavorist, I work alongside the beverage development team to create flavors that taste great while being compatible with trending ingredients like CBD, vitamin C, MCT oil, and reishi mushrooms.”

Despite the formulation challenges, enhanced water continues to be an exciting sector for innovation. And, as it’s projected to reach a global market value of $11.3 billion by 2027, enhanced water is sure to be a profitable one, too!

Have a great idea for a beverage? Flavorman can help you bring it to life. Give us a call at (502) 273-5214 or contact our team through this webform.


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Written on January 13, 2021.