Top 10: The Water Wishlist
The top trends of the that one essential in our lives: water
A list of the the top trends of the that one essential in our lives: water
1 Fortified water and sports drinks
Enhanced or fortified water normally contains added vitamins, and are marketed as being healthier than regular water. Some waters can boost specific vitamins that a person might be lacking, or people may take them based on the claim of more general benefits, often in terms of boosted immunity. But these products can contain more calories or caffeine than necessary.
Sports drinks usually contain essential salts to replace those lost through routine sweating — a significant selling point in hot climates — or during intense physical activity.
However, they are more expensive than regular waters, often contain additional sugars, and the benefits are not always clearly substantiated by scientific studies.
Dew South’s sales manager Kathy Dudley says: “These are waters that have had additives put into them, and they may not be nice tasting water to start with.”
Labels on the back do contain details of the ingredients, so consumers are able to easily assess these and make self-informed decisions.
2 Filter Systems
In many countries the population prefers not to drink water straight from the tap, and instead relies on bottled water over concerns of contaminants from the source or piping. However, using filter systems on tap systems is a trend to watch out for.
Liquid of Life does precisely that in the Middle East, and co-founder Rukhsana Kausar is one advocate pushing for alternative solutions to provide water. She says: “The bottle-free dispensers have got an in-built filtration system, and are connected directly to an existing water supply.
The water goes through the dispenser’s filters and into the tank where the water is kept chilled or heated, ready to be dispensed for drinking.” The firm’s aim is improve the quality of drinking water in the home and workplace.
Sometimes these systems contain components that re-mineralise water, and in this regard Dudley says: “This is probably used after a method called reverse osmosis, which takes everything out of the water including minerals, bugs and colour.” As water is an important source of some trace minerals, this can be a beneficial process.
3 Flavours and fruits
Flavouring water with fruits and flowers, like local water brand Masafi which has experimented with jasmine flavoured water, is a new trend sweeping the catering industry. Water is paired with fruits like peach, cucumbers, blackberries and more.
San Pellegrino, for example, introduced three new sparkling fruit beverages including Aranciata (orange juice), Limonata (lemonade) and Aranciata Rossa (blood orange).
On a cautionary note, Dudley says: “Sometimes these can contain a lot of sugar. In addition, because the taste and clearness of the water is not critical then less superior water can be used in some instances.”
4 Water / wine pairing
San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna hosted a Water and Wine Pairing Event in Dubai earlier this year, and sommelier Andreas Larsson saw F&B managers attend to understand the internationally-growing trend of appreciating the taste of water as part of a remarkable dining experience.
At this venture, water was paired with wines including Vergelegen Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2011 South Africa, Massaya Silver Selection 2009 Lebanon, Michele Chiarlo Barbaresco Reyna 2009 Italy, and Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato d’Asti 2012 Italy.
San Pellegrino’s area manager in the MENA region Luciano Novena said at the event: “We are delighted to host this event that plays a significant role in highlighting the importance of water tasting, and water and wine pairing in a way that perfectly matches the right kind of water with the right kind of beverage.”
At a fine dining level, people are now seeing “water sommeliers” enter the market. Awareness to choose the correct water is increasing to complement not just food but other beverages as well.
Middle East Zone director for Evian, Volvic Export of Danone, Renaud Marchand says: “It is important to cleanse your palate between courses and wines with a sip or two of water. Choose a natural mineral water such as Badoit that will not leave an aftertaste in your mouth.
“Badoit is the number one sparkling natural mineral water in fine dining in France due to its unparalleled and unique characteristics, which have made it chefs’ and sommeliers’ trusted companion to awaken flavours of the most refined meals and wines. By cleansing your palate you are aiming to eliminate the flavours of the previous course or wine so you are free to enjoy the new flavours.”
5 Mineral waters
Some companies add minerals to water while others prefer to leave them not tampered with. This can be because the water is very soft to begin with and contains little or no minerals, or may have be desalinated as is often the case in this region, or it may be to improve the natural mineral balance in the waters. Dudley says: “It is possible that companies put in minerals that the water may be lacking.”
However not all firms wish to follow this trend. Marchand says there are no plans to add anything to Evian water. “Pure and perfectly balanced in minerals, Evian is naturally filtered through a 15 year journey over layers of glacial sands and it’s because of the water’s purity that Evian is only available in its 100% natural form.”
In general, waters that cite a source, specially a specific spring or aquifer, are more likely to be natural waters that haven’t had further minerals added to them during packaging for consumer use.
6 Glass bottled water
Fine dining restaurants across the world carry glass bottled water, and Marchand says: “Evian and Badoit are available in glass bottles as they complement the fine dining element in restaurants and customers can choose to replicate this in their own homes.”
He adds: “The UAE in particular boasts a dynamic hospitality industry, which is greatly appreciated by residents and tourists alike who have an interest in high quality ingredients and fine dining and they expect the packaging to replicate the high quality ingredients inside the bottle.”
Dew South’s Dudley says: “We as spring water providers put our carbonated and still water into a glass bottle for higher end markets.” She explains that while the firm also sells its water in PET bottles, some manufacturers are unable to use these because of the treatment used to filter and sterilise their water.
“For example, if too much ozone gas is used it reacts with the PET in the plastic bottle leaving a bitter aftertaste in your mouth,” adds Dudley.
7 BPA leeching
BPA is a man-made carbon-based compound that is used to make certain kinds of plastics. Under certain conditions, large amounts of the BPA in plastic packaging can leech into the liquid contents.
Over the last decade, there have been an increasing number of questions raised over the safety of its use in the food industry, and in September 2010, Canada became the first country to declare BPA a toxic substance.
There are seven grades of plastics recognised by the International Resin Identification Code which contain varying concentrations of BPA. The safest is PP which is used for most reusable food containers. PET also has low concentrations of BPA but there are certain recommendations about its use.
Dudley says people should employ common sense when using plastic bottled water. “PET bottles should not be used one time and not refilled, nor should they be rinsed in hot water, or left sitting in the sun.”
This view is echoed by Kausar who says she and her team educate people and raise awareness about the issues surrounding plastic bottled water. “There is a growing awareness now of the health issues surrounding plastic bottled water.
You see them kept out in the sun, and when the plastic bottled water is kept out in the sun, the plastic heats and leaks toxins and carcinogens into the water. There are a lot of people concerned about the quality of the water from that respect.”
8 Oxygenated Water
Marchand says: “There is a current trend to add oxygen to water for added health benefits. Badoit is a mineral water that emerges naturally sparkling at its source in St Galmier, France. It’s untouched by man and there is no oxygen (or carbon dioxide) added to the water — its delicate bubbles are completely natural.”
Commercially oxygenated water claims higher volumes of oxygen. The definition of oxygenated is unregulated, but can involved pumping oxygen into water at pressure, much like carbonation. As there is little scientific research supporting the supposed benefits of the product, it remains a matter of consumer preference.
Dudley says: “Some waters are naturally oxygenated as our spring water. It is natural bubbles in the water from the source not bubbles put into the water.”
9 Coconut fad
It may seem like a part of flavoured water, but the trend of coconut water has slowly taken over the western world. The UK coconut water category is expected to be worth £100m by the end of 2014, according to research by The Grocer.
And this trend is creeping its way towards the Middle East, and O.N.E. Coconut Water has been available in the UAE since 2012, marketing its health benefits as being low in calories, nutritious and energising. It also contains naturally-occurring electrolytes and is unprocessed.
In fact, the electolytic balance of coconut water is so similar to human blood plasma that in World War II, supply-short medics used it to transfuse their patients. As it came straight from being sealed inside a cococnut, it was also sterile.
It is also being billed as a natural alternative to sports drinks, delivering sugar and electrolytes before or after exercise, and its naturally occurring sugar replenish glycogen in a body’s muscles. However, it’s not recommended to drink throughout the day due to this sugar content.
10 Drinking local
In the Middle East, a movement gaining force, especially in the UAE, to drink more local water. A campaign called “I Drink Local” was established by two people in Dubai after not being offered a choice between local and imported water. The website lists the top five answers given by the restaurants that did not offer a local option of water.
However, firms like Evian have embarked on an environmental programme that they believe should prevent people from being put off by its ‘imported’ status in the Middle East.
Marchand explains: “Minimising the environmental impact of importing products is important to consumers and not only is the Evian source in a protected environment, but we also strive as a company to minimise any impact we make on the global environment.
We have reduced our carbon outputs by 40% since 2008 and planted 100 million mangrove trees in Senegal to achieve carbon neutral status for the first time in 2012, and all of our bottles are transported from the French Alps by train and ship.”