Ready-to-drink tea manufacturers are working to balance growing consumer wariness of artificial sweeteners with demand for zero-calorie teas. Still, consumers are more focused on reducing overall levels of sugar in their diet than avoiding any particular sweeteners, according to a report from Mintel. The industry is also seeing a shift in overall tastes toward unsweetened teas, executives from Honest Tea and Ito En said.
Water enhancers are gaining popularity, in part because they give consumers the ability to customize their drinks. Kraft's MiO was first in 2011, followed by Coca-Cola's Dasani Drops and Crystal Light Liquid, and now Kool-Aid is planning a sugar-free liquid water enhancer. "The do-it-yourself flavor is what the millennials are looking for," said Bill McKay, founder and CEO of Ecosentials, which makes Vitamin Squeeze, a concentrated powder that can be added to water.
Kraft has added a MiO FIT extension to its line of MiO liquid water enhancers. The drops, available in Arctic Grape and Berry Blast, contain vitamins and electrolytes, creating a zero-calorie flavored sports drink when added to water. Kraft will introduce the brand with a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.