By Jeffrey Klineman

Retailers who are in the know can add a strong variety of functional products into a tiny footprint.

The key to the powder package isn’t just that it’s portable, but also that it doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t: no powder is going to claim that it’s going to have a flavor advantage over a blended product.

Even the marketing for almost-but-not-quite-complete drinks like Activate, which includes a bottle of water and a reservoir cap filled with powder, points to the product’s ability to maintain its functional qualities through freshness, rather than any kind of special note about its flavors.

“We’d like to expand into the powder line on a bigger front,” said PRE founder Scott De Lorme, “It’s a great way to start building brand awareness – and then build out with the appropriate DSD person.”

And consumer confidence is rising to meet powders: a recent poll conducted by the Center for Responsible Nutrition indicated that consumers have more than 80 percent confidence in dietary supplements: and by packaging themselves as such, many “pre-beverages” avoid issues of flavor while aligning themselves with that growing supplement business.

For De Lorme, whose brand deals in probiotics and gut health, the powder blend also offers an excellent metric into how his brand is doing – the functionality is so specific that anyone seeking out the powder is a dedicated consumer.

With powder sales a huge part of online grocery sales at Amazon, and shots having already reduced metrics for store profitability down to centimeters at the counter, that means that retailers who are in the know can add a strong variety of functional products into a tiny footprint.

It’s an idea that has caused many brands to try to re-entrench themselves via powders. One great case is Propel Zero, the latest iteration of what had been a powerful Gatorade offshoot. With so much intensity now being focused on the Gatorade rebranding and the successful G2 low-calorie line, re-launching Propel largely as a powder would seem to make sense for that brand.

To understand the powder world, look at the brand news included here: it’s interesting that a great many break down along the lines of current functional beverage products. There are a large set of sports and hydration brands, including Nuun and the aforementioned Propel Zero, as well as a fair number of protein products. Ajmera’s Coconut Water powders also get in on the action here.

Additionally, however, there are straight flavor additives: in addition to Crystal Light, there’s the new Mio, included because it serves a role similar to powders and, well, there just isn’t a category for this kind of product yet.

Also, there are the health and vitamin C types, like Alacer’s Emergen-C; some, like ZipFizz and Jade Monk, also add energy elements as well.

There are your probiotics, like PRE and Ph.D., as well as other make-you-feel-better products like Detox Shaker, which also features a combined wet/dry mixing mechanism.

Finally, there’s VIA, a hot drink that might be beating them all in terms of relevance. Why? It’s coffee, of course.

With mixes taking off to the point where companies like Fortitech and others are actually developing formulas that are classified as “market-ready” with the introduction of branding and packaging elements, get ready for the dry deluge to continue. •