Photo (cc) by Dougtone
First there was coconut water. Then, for a moment, asparagus water. And now, maple water.
One manufacturer, Happy Tree, likens maple water’s nutritional benefits to those of coconut water — “B vitamins and electrolytes and other minerals” — but with half the calories and a better taste.
Maple water is also sold under brand names like Vertical Water and SEVA, and Trader Joe’s announced a house brand in May.
Happy Tree’s co-founder and chief executive, Ari Tolwin, tells CBS MoneyWatch that he aims for the product to compete with coconut water, which is $400 million-a-year business.
So far, so good: Happy Tree expanded its product line in June to include a version of maple water with lemon and announced in July that the company’s sales had tripled since March. And that’s despite a price tag of $4.99 for 16 ounces — or $39.92 per gallon.
Maple water is nothing new. You might also know it as maple sap, the same liquid that is distilled into maple syrup. Tolwin tells CBS how he stumbled into the business:
“I visited my brother in the Catskill Mountains. He has buckets hanging under the maple trees. I looked in it and saw water. I tried it and thought it was delicious. I realized this is a product that in my opinion tastes better (than coconut water).”
As for whether maple water is worth its hype, Time reported last year that thus far, there is little research behind the product.
Manuel Villacorta, a registered dietician and author, told Time that while there’s some research supporting maple syrup as a source of antioxidants, that doesn’t mean maple water provides the same compounds in nutritionally significant quantities.
Lilian Cheung, a registered dietician at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said claims that maple water is high in antioxidants and the mineral manganese have not been verified by scientific study.
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