The functional edge of Campbell’s newest launch is its hydration benefits provided by the use of sweet potato juice from concentrate as its main ingredient.
But are consumers seeking hydration from vegetables sources such as sweet potatoes?
According to a recent Euromonitor report, hydration remains the most important need state in packaged drinks as consumers are looking to “near-water” categories for more natural and effective hydration sources than neon-hued sports drinks and conventional bottled water.
This trend has given rise to adjacent plant water beverages such as coconut water.
“There is a need to offer added-value waters and premium hydration products (particularly sports drinks and plant waters) to achieve value growth from consumers’ demand for hydration,” said the market research firm.
“Today’s consumers are seeking to live healthier lifestyles and incorporate more vegetables into their diet. They’re demanding more from their products and looking for a beverage that checks both the nutrition and hydration boxes – one that replenishes without sacrificing taste, sugar content or calories,” Diego Palmieri, chief marketing officer, US Meals & Beverages, Campbell Soup Company, told FoodNavigator-USA.
"We have been able to craft an isotonic plant-powered beverage that has an appealing taste and an accessible price point all while being good for you," Palmieri said.
Sweet potatoes for hydration
According to the company, the new product’s star ingredient, sweet potato juice from concentrate, contains naturally occurring electrolytes and glucose (serving as the body’s fuel source).
“We identified sweet potato juice as the ideal natural ingredient to deliver superior hydration. It has the perfect balance of light texture, a subtle sweetness that is crisp and clean, and a fantastic balance of nutrients,” Palmieri said.
Consumers may not be aware of sweet potatoes' inherent hydration benefits but the health halo the vegetable has garnered in other categories such as a better-for-you starch substitute used in snacks and pasta alternatives will add to the drink's appeal, shared Holly McHugh, marketing associate at Imbibe, a Chicago-area beverage development firm.
"Veggies have experienced a resurgence in the beverage industry because of their inherent benefits. Tomato juice used to be the most common veggie-based beverage, but brands have been launching beverages that offer more creative and flavorful ways to consume veggies over the last few years," McHugh said.
"Some of the most common veggies we see in beverages are beets, carrots, and kale, but there’s plenty of opportunity for sweet potatoes because they’re naturally sweet and high in fiber, magnesium, potassium, and B-vitamins."
The sweet potato juice concentrate is blended with purified water, natural flavoring, citric acid, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and fruit juice from concentrate to create an isotonic beverage that replenishes nutrients and fluids quickly, the company claimed.
The drink has 10 grams of sugar and is further sweetened with zero-calorie stevia leaf extract.
‘We continue to see a growth trend with V8 Original’
In Q3 2018, organic sales of Campbell’s “Americas Simple Meals and Beverages” division, which includes the V8 brand declined 2%, but the company holds an optimistic outlook on V8 sales due to success from its past functional beverage launches.
The company has been playing in the functional beverage space for over five years when it launched V8+Energy, which brought in $80m in retail sales at the end of last year and continues to grow, said Campbell Soup Company’s senior VP and president of Americas Simple Meals & Beverages division Mark R. Alexander during an analyst meeting in late 2017.
Palmieri added that the company will continue to leverage its “vegetable first heritage” by extending the V8 brand “into new spaces with benefit-driven platfroms”.
“We continue to see a growth trend with V8 Original, the hero product of the V8 family,” Palmieri said.
“We achieved this by changing the frame of reference of V8 Original by driving new occasions and making the brand more relevant for consumers seeking healthier snacks while remaining true to our vegetable first heritage.”
V8+Hydrate contains one full serving of vegetables and 45 calories per 8-ounce can available in three flavors: strawberry cucumber, coconut watermelon, and orange grapefruit.
The new plant-based beverage is currently shipping to major retailers nationwide with a suggested retail price of $4.99/6-pack.