Functional waters rise as consumers seek enhanced wellness

Primo Water Corp.’s CEO highlights the evolving consumer perception of hydration, emphasizing its transition from mere thirst quenching to a wellness resource, driven by increasing demand for high-quality drinking water and innovative hydration solutions.

Rachel French, Contributing writer

May 2, 2024

3 Min Read
people holding water in glasses

At a Glance

  • Consumers worldwide seek clean drinking water, with more viewing it as a wellness resource beyond just quenching thirst.
  • Various challenges face the water supply, including aging infrastructure, contamination and pollutants, per professionals.
  • Solutions include bottled water (from springs/wells) and purified water with multi-barrier filtration for improved quality.

For today’s consumers, hydration is about more than thirst, according to Robbert Rietbroek, CEO of Primo Water Corp. While consumers across the globe are seeking high-quality drinking water, a growing number of health-conscientious consumers are also looking to water as wellness resource.

“Consumers … really just want equitable and sustainable access to high-quality drinking water all over the world, and also here at home in the U.S. and Canada,” Rietbroek said. As a “pure-play water company,” Primo generates 95% of its revenue from water hydration solutions. These include water delivery, water exchange and water refill businesses.

Poor water quality can lead to the spread of waterborne diseases and can negatively impact the environment and the economy by creating pollution that harms vulnerable communities and the ecosystem.

Rietbroek pointed to a number of challenges facing the water supply. Aging water infrastructure systems, for example, can lead to such quality concerns as water main breaks that can be a cause of contamination and lack of filtration and disinfectant systems in water pipelines to ensure the water’s purity before it reaches a home or building.

Other potential challenges include droughts or excessive rainfall, which can lead to surface water runoff that causes contamination, microbiological or chemical contaminants from surface water or oil water, and industrial discharge and agricultural runoff.

A number of hydration solutions are effective in mitigating the challenges of contamination and poor quality. Bottled water, for example, is often sourced from springs or wells that use protected ground water sources and are not under the direct influence of surface water, Rietbroek explained.

purified water

Purified water can be produced from any water source, including municipal, tap, well or spring sources, but is purified and includes minerals for taste.

Primo’s water undergoes multi-barrier filtration and is purified by reverse osmosis or steam distillation before food-grade minerals are added, according to Rietbroek.

Hydration trends, solutions

The popularity of water is growing, especially among younger generations, per Rietbroek. This trend is partially driven by the rise of popular on-the-go drinking vessels, like Yeti- and Stanley-branded insulated cups, he said.

Additionally, “Water is now more and more perceived as a health and wellness product,” he explained. “So rather than just being thirsty … water’s being more and more recognized for its health properties, whether that’s clear skin or being hydrated.”

Consumers are also more apt to seek out higher-quality and premium water products.

“We actually see accelerated growth in very premium waters, as well as on the value side, so more affordable water,” Rietbroek said. “Those [categories] are experiencing the highest growth.”

Functional waters are one water segment seeing greater innovation to meet the growing hydration needs of consumers.

Take hellowater, a functional water brand, which focuses its products on meeting three specific needs of consumers: gut health, pH balance and immunity. Products include alkaline waters, as well as flavored “defense” and “prebiotic” lines.

Lemon Perfect is another functional water brand that hones in on the benefits of lemon, with each product containing half a squeezed lemon to provide digestive, immune and skin support, and more. CBD Living is another company championing the sector, using a nano-emulsion process that homogenizes CBD oil into its bottled waters.

About the Author(s)

Rachel French

Contributing writer

Rachel French joined Informa’s Health & Nutrition Network in 2013. Her career in the natural products industry started with a food and beverage focus before transitioning into her role as managing editor of Natural Products Insider, where she covered the dietary supplement industry. French left Informa Markets in 2019, but continues to freelance for both FBI and NPI.

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