Firms play up 'natural' benefits of enhanced water

Leanne Italie
Water that packs a hydrogen punch, snack bars as sticks and confections more savory than sweet are among innovations to emerge from hundreds of purveyors ...
Leanne Italie
Imaginechina

Zumo Gazpacho seawater beverages are unveiled the annual Summer Fancy Food Show at the Javits Center in New York. 

Water that packs a hydrogen punch, snack bars as sticks and confections more savory than sweet are among innovations to emerge from hundreds of purveyors at the Summer Fancy Food Show.

The annual showcase hosted by the Specialty Food Association wrapped last week in New York after three days and more than a little sampling of the artisan and high-tech bites and beverages from more than 1,200 companies.

Phil Kafarakis, president of the trade group, said in a recent interview that his industry is booming to the tune of US$127 billion a year, including the retail and food service markets. The consumer has really changed the dynamic, he said.

“Everybody keeps talking about the Millennial, but it’s not just the Millennial. GenX and NextGen and even Boomers, when you think about health and wellness, are looking for authenticity in products,” Kafarakis said.

Denise Purcell, head of content, offered these observations gleaned from the food artisans, importers and entrepreneurs who peddled their wares:

Over the last couple of years, Purcell said, something has happened to water. Companies are playing with its natural properties to claim added benefits.

“Water is up 75 percent in dollar sales from 2014 to 2016. Separately, there’s a lot of interest in functional beverages, so what we’re seeing right now are enhanced waters,” she said.

There’s a company called HFactor Hydrogen infusing its pouched water with molecular hydrogen, reportedly to boost anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

It also claims of an additional energy boost, all with no added chemicals or magnesium.

And there’s Formula Four Beverages’ OXiGEN water, infused with molecular oxygen, so not the O2 kind. Specifically, the company said it uses 1,000 parts per million of bio-available oxygen per 20 ounces in a bottle, compared to between five and 40 parts per million in tap or other bottled water.

Why? Well, according to a study cited by Formula Four, all of that helps clear lactic acid, making for a faster recovery after exercise. It also claims a boost in endurance, stamina, mental clarity and, wait for it, decreased hangover effects.

There’s also a shot format with five times more oxygen than the bottled product, Purcell said.

Another company is doing enhanced waters with pomegranate seed oil, reportedly good for inflammation and to help with digestive health, Purcell said. Another company took an entirely different twist on water and it’s not necessarily to sip or improve health.

It’s from Rogers Collection and it’s called Oak Smoked Water, made from Welsh oak chips smoked by the folks at Halen Mon.

The water has actually been on the market since 2013 and is pretty much what it claims to be, with smoking done over four days without additives for use in soups, risottos and casseroles as a way to add depth.

It can also be frozen into ice cubes for cocktails. Purcell has been watching this market segment for a while.

“They, too, have grown a lot over the last couple of years. Snack bars are up about 50 percent since 2014 and they’re forecast to grow even more. They hit on a lot of macro-trends like snacking and portability and good for you.”

Among recent innovations: A company called Aunt Dottie’s mixes together salad ingredients — greens, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruits — and condenses them into a bar.

What’s interesting to Purcell is a variation on the bar, the snack stick.

There’s one company, Vivify, doing energy snack sticks in interesting combinations of nuts, quinoa and seeds like flax and sunflower. There’s a chia-pistachio combination and a quinoa and toasted coconut combo.


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