Alkaline water brands tap into demand for sports nutrition products7 Oct 2022
With purported health benefits, alkaline water brands are finding success as they position their premium as sports nutrition beverages with added functionality.
With healthy sales across continents, it is hard to see how water can improve upon its health and sustainability credentials, boasting an enviable mineral profile, an all-natural source, and a ‘clean’ universally accepted taste.
However, alkaline water is trying to do just that. Practically unheard of a decade ago, the water is on course to be a multi-million-dollar global segment by 2023.
Alkaline water’s pH typically sits within the 7-10 range with products bottled from a naturally high pH source or treated in the processing stage to increase pH levels.
Most alkaline waters are marketed as premium products that aid an active lifestyle, and command a higher price compared to regular bottled water.
Food and drink analysts at Zenith Global have predicted rapid growth in alkaline water consumption with global volumes forecast to jump from 635 million litres in 2018 to 2,200 million litres by 2023.
“Alkalinity has become a high value point of difference for both manufacturers and consumers,” commented Zenith Global Senior Consultant Robin Bell. “It has a broadening target audience and multiple consumption occasions that we have identified.”
Alkaline and active lifestyles
The sports nutrition positioning could be behind alkaline water’s success.
Earlier this year, The Alkaline Water Company, the makers of Himalayan rock salt infused Alkaline88, rolled out Alkaline88 Sport, a sports drink that “adds a layer of sports functionality.” The functionality is a cap bottle that stores ingredients, allowing consumers to mix functional ingredients prior to consumption.
The success of the segment is also part of the wider demand for energy, according to Julian Mellentin, founder of food consultancy New Nutrition Business.
Consumers are increasingly looking for ingredients that give them an energy boost and a wide range of products have emerged to meet this demand, from such as turning kale into chips or cauliflower into pizza,
It’s a concept that can easily be applied to beverages. “The skill of NPD teams in re-making “old” foods with better tastes or more convenience has driven many successes from the almond to the cauliflower,” he said.
“Coffee – a 400-year-old energy drink – is one example of a category which continues to reinvent itself and expand thanks to creative NPD.”
Purported – but disputed – health benefits: Enhanced hydration, better digestion
Aside from energy gains, alkaline water brands claim it has health benefits, which include stronger bones, the easing of acid reflux, and enhanced hydration.
Proponents of the water also point to a role in counteracting the negative effects of consuming acidic foods and beverages, which have been linked to metabolic syndrome and tooth enamel erosion.
One recent Japanese study demonstrated how alkaline ionised water increased the pH level of enamel surface after consumption of acidic beverages. The Functional Water Foundation-funded research confirmed that enamel surface (Es) pH, which was lowered by the ingestion of cola or a sports drink, was rapidly increased by the ingestion of AIW.
A further study also points to alkaline water’s positive effect on diabetes and obesity, as well as a “synergistic effect to lifestyle modification, such as exercise.”
These findings are of course countered by research that found no evidence of an alkaline diet’s protective effect on bone health or any clinical evidence that shows its ability to address acid reflux.
Alkaline water and CBD
Alkaline water brands in North America are innovating with added functional ingredients, such as CBD.
The Alkaline Water Company in 2018 launched its hemp-derived CBD 10mg infused Alakaline88 water. This was closely followed up by Canadian-based Flow Alkaline Spring Water’s offering - a functional water infused with CBD and other botanical ingredients.
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