Drink Pioneers: Prickly Pear Cactus Water, the Next Coconut Water?

Marketers are bringing new ingredients-from cactus to hibiscus-to the ready-to-drink arena.

Claiming to be lower in calories and sugar than leading coconut waters and aloe juices, could cactus water become the next big thing? The founders of Caliwater, the first cactus water on the market, believe it could be. First launched in 2014, the company’s cactus water is sourced from sustainably and fairly-sourced prickly pear cactus (also known as opuntia) wild-harvested from California deserts. Each bottle contains 200 mg of prickly pear cactus extract. This March, the company reformulated, creating a “not from concentrate” recipe based on fresh prickly pear puree.

Why drink cactus water? According to Caliwater, benefits include replenishment and hydration from prickly pear’s five naturally occurring electrolytes and other nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And there are notable beauty benefits, as well. “The prickly pear cactus fruit is the only fruit which contains all 24 known betalains: powerful antioxidants known for their skin-revitalizing benefits,” the company adds on its website.

Prickly pear is already a popular culinary ingredient in Latin America, and Caliwater’s founders hope U.S. consumers will share the appeal. Caliwater describes prickly pear's taste as “an earthy, berry flavor.” In the United States, the drink is sold in such stores as Whole Foods Market, Gelson’s, and at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. “We plan to be available in UK retailers by summer 2015 and are also making progress toward distribution in other international locations. As the original and leading cactus water, we’ve seen dramatic growth since our launch,” says Caliwater cofounder Matt McKee.

It's been exciting to see how customers are now more than ever looking for functionality in their beverage choices, not just refreshment,” McKee says. “We've also tried to present a healthy option that is both local and exotic.

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Photo from Caliwater