Natural functionality drives sales of coconut water

U.S.-based coconut water brands are probably thanking their lucky stars that the likes of Madonna, Rihanna and Gwyneth Paltrow so readily hopped on the coconut water bandwagon, bringing both attention and glamour to the humble tropical beverage, reports Beverage World.


Coconut water is big business in Europe. According to a 2012 report by New Nutrition Business, U.K-based research and analysis firm for the global nutrition industry, the number of coconut water beverage launches in Europe quintupled from 2009 to 2011, from seven to 36 brands. Retail sales grew 100 percent in 2011 and the current value of the European market is estimated to be worth $65 million. New Nutrition Business valued the U.S. coconut water market in 2011 as ranging between $110 and $200 million.

With the European Union's stringent food safety regulations, no food or drink brand can make health claims in its advertising or packaging without supporting scientific evidence and the approval of the European Food Safety Authority. Because of coconut water's well-documented nutritional profile and health benefits, Europe-based coconut water brands haven't needed to use health claims in their marketing. "The media is carrying the message," says director of New Nutrition Business and author of the report Julian Mellentin. "You can still communicate the health benefits to the press even if you can't say it on your packaging. That's the strategy being used by brands in Europe."


As in the U.S., the appeal of coconut water in Europe is its natural functionality. The water is a translucent fluid sourced from immature green coconuts, aged six months or younger. A typical serving contains vitamin C, magnesium, and sodium and provides more potassium than two bananas. The high electrolyte content has made coconut water a powerful rival to formulated sport drinks. "Companies will be tempted to use coconut water as an ingredient blended with other things, but they'll have to be careful," says Mellentin. "The attraction of coconut water is its naturalness and health benefits," he says adding, "if it's diluted, consumers won't know whether they'll reap the advantages."