According to Beverage Marketing Corp., sales and consumption of bottled water in the U.S. continues to rise, though at the expense of other commercial beverages. In 2005, total bottled water consumption hit 7.5 billion gallons, an increase of 10.7% over 2004; per capita consumption increased by more than two gallons over that time.

"While all beverages have their role in a marketplace with an abundance of drink choices," says Stephen R. Kay, vice president of communications with the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), "consumers are choosing bottled water as a refreshing, hydrating beverage and as an alternative to drinks that may contain calories, caffeine, sugar, artificial colors, alcohol or other ingredients, which they may wish to moderate or avoid."

Contending that “too many kids hydrate themselves with calorie-burdened, sugary drinks,” and offering parents an easy option for avoiding those beverages, Nestlé Waters North America has introduced Aquapod, 11oz bottles of spring water designed for on-the-go consumption.


With school systems making great strides in avoiding junk foods, the attention of many parent groups has turned to other health-related issues. A number of them have sought to benefit the 1.4 million youngsters with nut and peanut allergies, serving to make many pre-schools and schools “nut-free” zones.

The problem, then, becomes what to feed these children for snacks and lunches. Zoe's O's cereal from Zoe Foods is geared to be one possible solution for an all-natural breakfast or snack alternative. However, the true worth of this item is not so much in what it does not contain.

Rather, the Zoe Foods product incorporates heart-healthy omega-3s, whole grains and soy. A 34g serving of Zoe's O's Natural has 3g of sugar, 120 calories, 5g of fiber, 5g of protein and 500mg of omega-3s, plus it is manufactured in a nut-free facility. The range also includes honey and cinnamon varieties.

So Smoothie

Convenience and nutrition have been two of the strongest trends seen of late among the food industry, so it should be little surprise to see a merging of the two. This year's list of bestselling items as reported in Information Resources Inc.'s Pacesetters report was rife with examples: Frito-Lay's light snack packs and Nabisco's 100 Calorie packs among them.

Many would argue that the very notion of such a convergence was first evidenced in the development of the smoothie, which had a grassroots start but has grown to encompass mainstream manufacturers and retailers. Dunkin' Donuts, for instance, has introduced a new line of smoothies for “healthier, on-the-go options.” Made from yogurt and real fruit, the Dunkin' Donuts products are available in New England and Florida but will be nationwide this summer. Flavors include wildberry, mango passion fruit and strawberry banana, all promising to be “an excellent source of vitamin C and calcium.”

On the retail aisles, Lightfull Foods has launched what it terms a “satiety smoothie,” offering 6g of fiber and 6g of protein, but only 90 calories.

Soda Jerked

Public school systems around the country have been the target of quite a degree of controversy in recent years, as their often-less-than-nutritious cafeteria offerings have fueled parents' ire. Beverages, in particular, have been at issue.

Now, the nation's largest beverage distributors have agreed to cease sales of non-diet sodas to most public schools. The deal, announced by the William J. Clinton Foundation, promises to “help 35 million young people lead healthier lives,” says the former president.

Public high schools still will offer diet sodas, but even those will be out at elementary and middle schools, where only unsweetened juice, low-fat milk and water will be available. According to a spokesperson for the American Beverage Association, the agreement ultimately will reach 87% of the school drink market. In terms of a timeline, the companies say 75% of the nation's public schools will be affected by the 2008-2009 school year, with the remainder to follow by the next school year.