Bubbling With Potential
Irecently read a review in the Philadelphia
Inquirer about the city’s new Water Bar
at the Water Works Restaurant and Lounge. The article profiled the 19
brands of imported and domestic water stocked at the new Philly hot spot,
which is staffed by a water sommelier who helps customers pair different
varieties of water with food. The writer’s reaction to the water bar
concept was a bit skeptical at first — as was the reaction of some
people on our own staff.
Before I go any farther, I should tell you that I once
served as a judge in a water competition, so I’ve been around water
enthusiasts and know how passionate they can be about H2O. I can even say
that with a little training from an expert I was able to discern subtle
differences between waters. But will most consumers be able to tell the
difference? Places like Water Bar are betting on it, and according to the
article, consumers are paying anywhere from $4 to $50 a bottle to taste
that difference, so who are we to burst the bubble on their creativity?
As it happens, bubbles were a big emphasis of the
Water Bar review and many of the water/food pairings at the restaurant
included sparkling water as opposed to still waters. A highly carbonated
water, for example, was paired with an oyster appetizer, while a lightly
carbonated brand was matched to a chicken entrée. It got me thinking
that for all of the growth in bottled waters over the past decade, there
has been very little emphasis on sparkling varieties in the United States.
Even without expert training, it’s easy to distinguish the different
flavors and textures of sparkling water, which depends in large part on the
amount of carbonation in the product. With all the attention on water these
days, maybe it’s time this sub-category got its due.
According to Beverage
Industry’s annual Product
Development Survey, which was conducted by researcher and contributor
Catherine Penn and is featured in this issue, most of this year’s
R&D efforts for the bottled water category will be directed toward
flavors, sweeteners, and vitamin and mineral fortification. Those types of
enhanced waters have been very successful in the past few years and are
targeted at health-and-wellness-minded consumers. It seems that with a
little innovation, or even just a bit of awareness-building attention,
sparkling waters also would be a natural choice in beverage alternatives.
If consumers in some cities are curious enough to belly up to the water bar
to find the perfect bottle, surely there is potential in there for the rest
of the population.
also reveals many more R&D plans for companies across all beverage
categories — more than we could even fit into this issue. Turn to
page 37 to find out which ingredients will be in demand this year and which
flavors are likely to be the top sellers. Then visit our Web site at bevindustry.com where we’ll
share details on who makes the product development decisions for the
industry and why new products succeed or fail in the marketplace.
Cover Profile — Fiji Water
Category Focus — Tea and ready-to-drink tea
Beverage R&D — Safety check-up Packaging
— Labeling materials
Special Report — Health and wellness
Cover Profile — Polar Beverages
Category Focus — Soft drink report
Beverage R&D — Formulating diet drinks
Global Report — Asia
Packaging — Case wrappers and packers