Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the Healthy & Natural Show in Chicago, Tré Reusch from brand owner Steuben Foods said: “We looked at an emerging category in healthy hydration starting with coconut water that went from basically zero to $500m in nine years.
“We didn’t want to be a me-too but we wanted to bridge that gap with coconut water and Vitaminwater with a more palatable, basically, chuggable drink.
“It’s got more magnesium, potassium and vitamin C than coconut water and it’s nicer on the palate. The flavor profile is lighter and fresher than coconut water.”
There is some natural banana flavor in there in addition to the banana juice concentrate in order to get the flavor profile just right, said Reusch. “But we didn’t want it to taste like banana candy; that flavor is overwhelming.”
While bananas naturally contain vitamin C, potassium and manganese, Steuben Foods also adds potassium citrate, magnesium citrate and ascorbic acid (a form of vitamin C) to banana water, which contains 24% of the DV for potassium, 20% of the DV for magnesium and 20% of the DV for vitamin C per 12oz bottle (70 calories), so it's not clear how many of these nutrients are coming directly from the banana juice concentrate. There is no added sugar.
Banana water is filled aseptically comes in three variants: Original, mango and passion fruit. The MSRP is $1.99-$2.49 per 12oz bottle.
Euromonitor: It's a promising concept
Euromonitor senior industry analyst Howard Telford told FoodNavigator-USA: "It’s a promising concept that certainly has trial appeal. Bananas are by far the most consumed fresh fruit in the country and if you can integrate some sort of hydration angle with a lighter flavour profile then it could succeed."
Asked about the formulation, he said: "Clean labels are a challenge if you want to reach the really dedicated natural/specialty consumer, so targeting more mainstream grocery retailers may be a smarter play in reaching a consumer that wants something relatively healthy and natural in the basket but may not be the same ‘true believer’ H&W consumer that avoids additives entirely.
"It’s not very common to see potassium front and center as a beverage USP so it will be interesting to see how it does."