Premium mineral water brand Flow Alkaline Spring Water announced today its acquisition of BOONS Collagen Water, a deal that will see the brand expand its wellness-focused product offerings with the launch of a new collagen-infused water line using BOONS’ proprietary formula.
The line will feature the same flavors BOONS briefly launched late last year — Watermelon, Pink Grapefruit and Cucumber — each infused with 10 grams of grass-fed collagen protein. Marketed as Flow Collagen Infused Water, the product will roll out at retailers in May in Flow’s new paperboard packaging, made from 75% renewable materials. The product will have a suggested retail price of $3.49 per 16.9 oz. carton in the U.S., and will be available in 12-packs on Flow’s website.
Speaking with BevNET, Flow founder and CEO Nicholas Reichenbach said the company first connected with BOONS founder Claudia Marion, who also launched “better-for-her” food and beverage brand Stork and Dove as well as functional botanical beverage brand KITE, last year when she approached Flow about a co-packing partnership for the collagen water line. In addition to its original Ontario, Canada-based facility, Flow opened a $15.5 million facility in Virginia last July, which manufactures its products sold in the U.S. and co-packs for other brands.
Marion, a biochemist, had previously spent a year developing water infused with grass-fed bovine collagen. Reichenbach said when he tried the zero sugar, zero calorie beverage for the first time, “it literally tasted like Flow.”
“I said ‘If we were to do a collagen water, it would taste like this,’” he said.
In December, just two weeks after it had been released to the market, Flow acquired BOONS’ product line and finished the first production run of the rebranded Flow line that same month. Rechienbach said the company “minorly tweaked” the formula, shifting its water source from municipal water to Virginia’s Seawright Springs. Marion will assist Flow in developing three new flavors of the collagen line which will launch at Natural Products Expo East in September, and will work with the company on its new product innovation pipeline for 2021.
Flow had previously considered expanding into the collagen space, Reichenbach said. In order to “map out product innovation,” he said, the brand has been conducting semi annual consumer insight surveys for the past two years. Last year, when the brand asked consumers which ingredient they’d like to see Flow infused with, he said 65% of consumers requested collagen, which studies suggest can help promote stronger skin, hair, nail and joint health. Reichenbach said the process of infusing water with collagen proved “more difficult” than anticipated, due to the ingredients’ texture and taste profile.
Collagen’s profile as a functional beverage ingredient has been on the rise in recent years. Products including Vital Proteins’ Collagen Water and Dirty Lemon’s +collagen elixir offered low-calorie collagen-infused options, while brands like Reneva, SkinTe, Pop + Bottle and Good Culture have also launched collagen-infused SKUs. Reichenbach said Flow’s new line stands out from other collagen beverages because of its simple formulation, which includes only water and natural flavors, without any added fruit juices or sweeteners.
“With this formula, we’ve really been able to break the mold,” he said.
While Reichenbach said the broader consumer may need to be educated on the benefits of ingestible collagen, the new line is just an “extension into” Flow’s wellness-focused core consumer.
Coinciding with the product’s debut in May, Flow will launch its “Beauty In, Beauty Out” marketing campaign, which will be previewed at Expo West. In terms of collagen’s functional benefits, the campaign will not “make any specific claims that you can’t find online.”
The new line will also be the first products produced in Flow’s new paperboard packaging, now made with 75% renewable materials (up from its previous 68% ). Reichenbach said the brand has reduced the amount of materials such as polypropylene and metallic foils in its packaging and is now using more environmentally friendly bi-color printing.
The brand did not disclose which retailers will carry the new line, though Reichenbach said it will be rolled out nationally across Flow’s current natural channel retail accounts. It will also launch in drug stores, conventional and mass, and may make its way next into beauty, fitness and lifestyle-focused stores. Reichenbach added that Flow will announce a partnership with a fitness brand this summer.
“This product has the ability to cross many different specialty retailers that don’t even sell food, because ingestible beauty is one of the huge things happening in other categories outside of food and grocery,” he said. “We can let our consumer experience this product not only when they buy groceries, but also when they’re experiencing beauty and lifestyle.”