Pepsi has announced the launch of SoBe Life Water, which it claimed contains the full recommended daily intake of vitamin C, a fifth of that for vitamin E and a tenth of the advised intake for B vitamins B6, B12, B3 and B5.
The drink, launched under PepsiCo's SoBe Beverages arm, contains no artificial flavours or preservatives and comes in five flavours: Pomegranate Cherry, Blackberry Grape, Passionfruit Citrus, Orange Tangerine and Strawberry Kiwi.
Tom Smallhorn, vice president for SoBe marketing, said: "SoBe has been making beverages to uplift the mind, body and spirit for the past 10 years. It makes sense that we would expand into the enhanced water category."
The move highlights how mainstream soft drinks firms view functional drinks as a niche category with high potential, amid a consumer shift from fizzy sodas to healthier soft drinks like juice and water.
PepsiCo, in January, announced its second largest bottler, PepsiAmericas, had bought up functional drinks maker Ardea Beverage. Pepsi said it would work with its bottler to market Ardea's Nutrisoda range across the US.
Nutrisoda, launched in 2003, contains a range of functional additives including L-Arginine and other amino acids, CoQ10, vitamins, minerals and herbs. There are seven different varieties, including Immune, Calm and Focus, formulated to achieve specific benefits.
Coca-Cola's North American bottling arm, Coca-Cola Enterprises, also recently signed a 10-year distribution deal with Bravo! Foods - producer of vitamin-enriched, flavoured milk drinks.
Functional food and drink has so far proved more popular with US consumers rather than Europeans, according to a recent report by market research group Datamonitor. It said the US market was worth $19bn in 2004.
The European functional market has been hampered by greater consumer scepticism there. In bottled water specifically, a spokesperson for Nestlé Waters told BeverageDaily.com that functional water was still considered a bit too niche in Europe to be a top innovation priority.
The firm said it was, however, monitoring the situation. And John Band, drinks market analyst for Datamonitor, said functional food and drink sectors in Europe and the US could still grow strongly as long as health claims were credible and communicated clearly to consumers.
Functional bottled water has continued to creep in on the fast-growing UK market. UK-based firm Works With Water have just launched flavoured spring waters claiming to offer health benefits to consumers.
The drinks contain Orafti's Beneo brand, inulin and oligofructose ingredients - non-digestible soluble fibres derived from chicory root that are said to ferment in the gut and promote the growth of good bacteria.