In the United States, there is no tradition of concentrated squash and flavoured cordials, meaning that when Kraft launched the first water enhancer there under the MiO brand name in 2011, it could credibly claim that it the product was “a new brand, a new form and a new category” – although there was a handful of smaller companies saying they had already been producing similar highly concentrated flavoured cordials for years.
Kraft has said it expects MiO sales to hit more than $200m in 2013, and other companies are also seeking a share of the category, including Coca-Cola, which introduced its Dasani Drops rival product in the US in September 2012.
In Europe, however, will it be harder to find a niche for the Drop by Drop concept?
Tate & Lyle has previously discussed its high hopes for its water enhancers in Europe, saying that the heritage of squash and powdered flavours in Europe could help boost its success on this side of the Atlantic. But there are factors that differentiate it from traditional cordials too.
“The difference with this type of solution is the cordial product can’t fit in your pocket,” said Tate & Lyle’s senior vice president of product management, James Blunt. “The strength of sucralose means the sweetening is strong enough to allow you just to use a couple of drops.”
He added: “You can use it in different categories like yoghurt. I think it is taking cordial a step further. The other area of application is in cocktails, where you would normally use juices…What’s really appealing to customers in North America, and increasingly here in Europe, is the customisation.”
Blunt says North American consumers are using two or three of these concentrated flavours and mixing them to create their own flavours, either in water or in alcoholic cocktails.
At Drinktec in Munich this September, Tate & Lyle said it hoped to see a branded product launched in Europe within six months, and at FIE, Blunt reiterated that the company has seen interest in the concept on this side of the Atlantic.
…Watch this space.