The Latest Trend in the Functional Beverage Market: Specialty Water


Specialty water is becoming an increasingly popular category within the functional beverage market. Image credit: Flickr user tarotastic

Specialty water is becoming an increasingly popular category within the functional beverage market. Image credit: Flickr user tarotastic

The functional beverage market has been booming for several years now, as customers look for alternative drinks that can help them fulfill their nutritional and lifestyle goals. And based on the  products highlighted at the Summer Fancy Food Show, the latest trend within the functional beverage market is specialty water. The Summer Fancy Food Show is an annual product showcase held by the Specialty Food Association in New York. At the 2017 showcase, specialty water featured prominently among the exhibitions. As beverage formulation developers look to expand on some of the specialty water ideas from the Summer Fancy Food Show, they can use electronic lab notebooks (ELNs) to support their research on different options for specialty water products.

Specialty Water Ideas from the Fancy Food Show

The product developers at the Summer Fancy Food Show highlighted a wide range of ways that plain old bottled water can be tweaked so that it crosses the line into the functional beverage category. Some of these methods are highly technical, while others involve infusions with a wide range of ingredients. Here are some of the things that formulators are thinking about as they create specialty water options for the functional beverage market:

  • Altering the chemical content of water. Recently, specialty water companies have found ways to alter the molecular composition of water to meet certain functional needs. For example, one company has created a specialty water that contains more than a hundred times the amount of oxygen as normal water, which can be a natural energy booster. Another company has infused water with additional hydrogen, which can help fight inflammation, improve circulation, and support muscle recovery for athletes.1
  • Infusing water with spices and oils. Many specialty water developers are looking to infuse their products with oils and spices in order to boost their flavor and nutritional content without adding excess sugar and calories. At the Summer Fancy Food Show, some of the infusion options on display included turmeric, ginger, mint, matcha, chamomile, pomegranate oil, rose water, and even birch tree extract.2
  • Infusing water with fruit juice and natural flavors. In the past, developers of enhanced water formulations have often relied on artificial flavorings to give their products a light fruit flavor. However, many of today’s customers prefer products with all-natural ingredients, which has led developers to explore plant-based flavoring options like stevia and real fruit. It can be tough to strike the right balance between water and flavor, so that the specialty water does not cross the line into the juice category of the functional beverage market. At this year’s show, formulators have shown that it is possible with plant-based ingredients such as strawberry puree, lime juice, pineapple juice, stevia extract, and maple sap.3
  • Sourcing water from unique locations. One of the most creative specialty water developers at the Summer Fancy Food Show sourced water from deep within Lake Tanganyika in Africa, which they advertise as being free from contamination for millions of years. This can appeal to customers who are particularly concerned about the effects of environmental pollution on today’s water sources.
The Benefits of Electronic Lab Notebooks for Specialty Water Research

Beverage developers who are exploring specialty water formulation options can use electronic lab notebooks (ELNs) to support the research. ELNs store lab data electronically, eliminating the hassles associated with paper-based notebooks. For instance, as researchers test out different ways to change the molecular composition of water, combinations of spice infusions, and ratios of fruit juice and water, ELNs make it easy to access the data from previous experiments in order to compare results and identify the best formulations.

Because of their electronic data storage capabilities, ELNs simplify collaboration on particularly complex formulation development projects. For instance, a field researcher who is measuring the properties of water sourced from a unique location can quickly send that data back to the lab for closer evaluation and analysis. Beverage formulation developers may also share their data with nutritionists to help assess the dietary aspects of a proposed specialty water product.

By easing data access and facilitating collaboration, ELNs have the overall effect of improving lab productivity—which ultimately lowers the operating cost for the company. This can mediate the high costs of sourcing water from unique locations and altering the chemical content of water, and the savings can be passed on to the customer. This can put specialty water in the price range for a much broader consumer base.

BIOVIA Electronic Lab Notebooks are a versatile research tool that can support formulation development in the food and beverage sector, including the creation of specialty water options for the functional beverage market. Contact us today for more information about this and our other software offerings!

  1. “Seven trends at Summer Fancy Food Show 2017,” June 26, 2017,
  2.  “Souping, birch water, and gochujang: 9 trend from the 2017 Fancy Foods Show,” June 30, 2017,
  3.  “11 new and notable beverages from the Summer Fancy Food Show,” July 11, 2017,