Soft drinks indies fast flow to market

Independent soft drinks manufacturers have their bigger multinational rivals “on the run” in the burgeoning functional water category, according to industry sources.

Independent soft drinks manufacturers have their bigger multinational rivals “on the run” in the burgeoning functional water category, according to industry sources.

Britvic’s recent soft drinks report revealed water and “better for you” products are the top performers in the category. It indicated that increased demand for functionality, such as blood pressure reducing and cholesterol-lowering drinks, will provide “significant opportunities” for manufacturers.

But rather than Britvic or Coca-Cola leading the way in functional water, small companies such as T&T Beverages – owner of women’s spring water h2eau Plus (MW February 2) – are quickest to innovate. H2eau Plus is fortified with dietary fibre for gut health, artichoke extract for digestion, and a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

A source from a top three UK supermarket says: “Small, independent companies are producing functional waters much more quickly than big manufacturers. I see new brands every month, all with different properties.”

Debbie Flint, managing director of Infinity Drinks, which launched health water HydroPower last year (MW September 8), says: “Bigger companies lack creative thinkers. After millions of pounds worth of research, Coke came up with Dasani, which was just Del Boy’s Peckham Spring with a fancy name.”

Functional water is a huge part of the US soft drinks market. Energy Brands, which claims to have sold $600m-worth (&£337m) of its Glaceau product last year, recently filed a complaint against PepsiCo for copying its formula, ingredients and sweetener when launching SoBe Life Water. PepsiCo denies intent.

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