- Hellowater, maker of a self-named line of fiber-infused functional waters, is partnering with agricultural company Brandt to use its toxin-elimination and immune-protection technology in a new beverage line. Brandt, which specializes in agronomic research and product development, is also serving as the lead investor in Hellowater's Series A funding round, set to close in the first quarter of 2021. Details on the size of the investment were not shared.
- The beverage line will feature Brandt's CYTO PLUS technology, which the company said creates "a shield for our defense system while accelerating the elimination of toxins from the body,” according to a press released emailed to Food Dive. The partnership expects to launch its first product in March and multiple product extensions this year. Hellowater plans to launch the new line with a marketing program featuring NASCAR, in partnership with Brandt and JR Motorsports.
- The options for functional waters on the market have expanded rapidly as interest in the category increases. This collaboration is branching out beyond ingredients and looking to technology to create a new subsegment of the category, revealing the latest front in a product development arms race among functional beverage manufacturers.
The functional water category has gained steam over the past several years as consumers have come to rely on beverages for their health benefits. Technavio predicts the global functional water market will experience an annual growth rate of nearly 9% between 2018 and 2022.
However, this growth figure was estimated before the pandemic. As health has become a primary concern, functional claims are now more appealing than ever to consumers. The growing attention on this beverage segment has prompted big manufacturers and startups alike to participate in a development frenzy of functional water offerings.
PepsiCo offers Driftwell, a functional water aimed at combating stress and inducing relaxation, while Nestlé's Pure Life Plus line aims to hydrate, energize and fortify with magnesium, zinc and potassium. Ocean Spray launched a new line of flavored functional waters focused on energy and the immune system. Oxigen raised $15 million last year for its pH balanced water with electrolytes and oxygen boost. These new offerings only add to an already-crowded space where the competition includes established brands like Essentia and Flow, as well as Keurig Dr Pepper-owned Core Nutrition.
Hellowater already has three of its own functional varieties, each designed to deliver wellness benefits in digestive health, immune defense and pH balance. The upcoming collaboration goes one step further by incorporating CYTO PLUS, a toxin-elimination technology developed by Brandt Chief Science Officer Arthur Nonomura, who has studied Cytochrome P450, a family of enzymes involved in metabolizing toxic compounds.
“We could have gone the typical route in creating an immunity beverage by adding core vitamins and minerals to help boost health, but we knew we needed to deliver a breakthrough product that had true protection,” said Hellowater co-founder and CEO Tom Bushkie in the release.
This new initiative to incorporate CYTO PLUS to increase Hellowater's functionality reflects a larger trend in the CPG space where companies are applying technology to increase the benefits of products. Artificial intelligence has become a popular tool in tackling everything from food allergies to identifying consumer preferences and upcoming trends. Similarly, gene-editing technology such as CRISPR is helping companies redevelop products from the inside out.
Hellowater’s partnership with Brandt, a company that specializes in developing agricultural technologies to improve food supply yields, opens a door for other companies to look beyond the industry for collaborations that can help them meet consumer needs through technology-driven innovation. Doing so may prove to be a key ingredient for expanding product portfolios, keeping up with the competition and catering to consumers who are continually looking for more than simple sustenance from their food and beverages.