Today’s Beverages Tackle Form and Function for Health-Forward Shoppers

The Alkaline Water Co.’s new Alkaline88 Plus sports beverage offers enhanced hydration plus functional support, while prickly pear cactus-based Caliwater, based in Los Angeles, contains rare antioxidants that help promote skin health and better digestion. San Francisco-based Sunwink, known for its plant-based powdered drink mixes, is now rolling out a ready-to-drink (RTD) beverage with its Digestion Lemon Tonic, packed with dandelion, lemon balm and chicory.

Large manufacturers are also getting on the functional-beverage bandwagon. Launched in 2021, Driftwell, a brand of Purchase, NY.-based PepsiCo, contains L-theanine to help promote relaxation and sleep. Additionally, Lipton, whose RTD beverages are distributed by PepsiCo, has released Lipton Immune Support, a ready-to-drink iced green tea with pineapple mango flavor, vitamin C and a 25% daily value of zinc.

Finding Their Place at Market

Food retailers are realizing the benefits of stocking functional beverages, especially as their shoppers have grown more health-forward. According to Rebecca Calvin, SVP and chief merchandising officer for The Save Mart Cos., based in Modesto, Calif., immunity is the top functional attribute that the grocer’s shoppers are looking for, followed by probiotics, prebiotics, and products that have positive effects on gut health, overall wellness and mindfulness.

“Our shoppers are aware of what they are putting into their bodies, and those products [that are] beneficial for overall health,” asserts Calvin. “Consumers are looking for ways to simplify their life, and consolidating beverages with healthy benefits is a natural fit.”

As far as merchandising goes, Calvin says that Save Mart is focused on integrating functional beverages within mainstream categories to garner even more shopper attention. “As an example, our shoppers looking to buy an enhanced water or energy drink are looking for those items while in those sections, and they are more likely to pick up an item if it is merchandised with ‘like category’ items,” she explains. “In some cases, we’ve segmented within categories to keep items together — functional energy is a great example of this.”