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Rapid rehydration is reshaping the functional drink category

The “rapid rehydration” segment is becoming a crowded category in the US….

With its recent unveiling of BodyArmor Flash IV, BodyArmor joined brands like PepsiCo’s Gatorlyte, Abbott’s Pedialyte, and Electrolit in a category that’s gaining momentum.

In addition, powdered hydration drink mixes like DripDrop, Liquid IV and LMNT are flooding the category.

“There are several reasons why consumers are enamored with the rapid rehydration trend,” Grichka Frachisse, CEO of CUBO Beverages, told The Food Institute.

“Consumers are becoming more informed about what, specifically, contributes to well-being. Rapid rehydration beverages provide a convenient way to replenish the body.

“We’re making more and more advancements in understanding the right blends in beverages to include a wide variety of functions,” he added.

Coca-Cola’s big bet

“We may not be the first product in this rapidly growing space, but we plan to be the best – and that ultimately starts with taste,” said BodyArmor’s CEO, Federico Muyshondt, in a statement.

Muyshondt called BodyArmor’s new drink a “game-changer,” alluding to the fact it contains over 2,200 mg of electrolytes, along with added functionality provided by zinc and vitamins B and C.

The drink expands the reach of the $1-billion-plus hydration brand – which is owned by Coca-Cola – which has posted mixed results over the past two years. Coca-Cola has struggled to integrate BodyArmor, the largest acquisition in the company’s history, notes Food Dive.

“We had not had the greatest integration into the Coke system last year on BodyArmor, and obviously there’s some new players and new category dynamics,” James Quincey, Coca-Cola’s CEO, told analysts in late April. “We’re very focused on stabilizing our portfolio and growing from here.”

Coca-Cola will launch BodyArmor Flash IV regionally; the product will be available nationwide in 2024. Earlier this year, BodyArmor Sports Nutrition re-launched the Powerade drink with what it claims is 50% more electrolytes than its competition.

Leveraging the trend

Frachisse said beverage manufacturers can take advantage of the rapid rehydration trend by focusing on the following elements:

  • Formulation: Incorporate ingredients known for hydration and replenishment of nutrients, like electrolytes (sodium, potassium, and magnesium).
  • Natural ingredients: With demand for clean-label products increasing, manufacturers can use natural ingredients like coconut water or fruit extracts that are rich in essential minerals.
  • Collaborative research: Beverage companies could team with scientific research institutions to develop evidence-based formulas and “gain consumer trust through transparency”.

According to Data Bridge Market Research, the electrolyte hydration drinks market was valued at $1.47-billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $2.79-billion by 2029, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.3% during that time frame.

“The rapid rehydration trend seems to have staying power,” Frachisse said.

Michael Ashley Schulman, chief investment officer at Running Point Capital Advisors, had a similar sentiment, noting: “The category’s growth goes hand-in-hand with the expansion of the fitness market, as well as the booming growth of the functional beverage market, as brands attempt to carve out their niches and fiefdoms in this global battle royale.”

Source: The Food Institute

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