Ingredient Focus 2015: Water
The Patagonia range has flavoured still and sparkling mineral waters, named for the mountains where it is bottled. Patagonia is available in orange, apple and lemon, and lime varieties, packaged in 330ml, 500ml and 1l size formats. Its producer, Aguas Primitivas de la Patagonia, bottles the water at source in the mountainous Patagonia region, “using the most advanced technology under strict quality controls”. The mineral water goes from source to the bottle without any human contact. Its tall and thin packaging has two separate colour schemes for differentiation — red for the carbonated and blue for the non-carbonated version — and feature two distinct base formats that depict the mountains in which the water is made.
Rim Natural Spring Mineral Water flows from a 100-million-year-old spring known as “Ain-As-Sayfiyeh” at an altitude of 1450m above sea level on the eastern slopes of Mount Sannine in Lebanon. The Rim bottling plant houses some of the largest European bottling lines in the Middle East with an output of more than 70,000 (PET) bottles per hour, in various sizes. Established in 1978, the Rim Company is ISO 22000 certified and its products’ labels bear the ‘NSF’ and ‘IBWA’ International quality marks. Moreover, Rim now operates a new FFS (Form, Fill & Seal) line producing airline PET cups that will be served aboard MEA flights starting August 2015.
Lanjarón natural mineral water has a Arab history, dating back 700 years while Spain was still ruled by the Moors. The belief is that the word Lanjarón roots from the Arabic word ‘Al Anhar’, denoting the many rivers and springs of the mountainous region in Granada, Spain. Lanjarón is natural mineral water sourced and bottled in the historic mineral-rich lands of Andalucia, Spain.
French mineral water with no nitrates, Omuse, is now in the UAE. The natural mineral water from Bordeaux is also called “La Bordelaise” or “Le Grand Cru”, referring to its origin. With detoxifying and anti-oxidising characteristic, Omuse has a balanced mineral composition for perfect digestibility. The water is offered in still variety, and in addition, has very fine bubbles in its lightly sparkling natural mineral water.
Masafi has launched a sparkling juice called ‘Fruitsss’. It is available in three fruity flavours in 250ml packages — apple cocktail, pomegranate and tropical. The sparkling juices are a fusion of real fruits juice and carbonation, has no artificial colours, and is a natural expansion of Masafi’s existing range of premium bottled water, flavoured waters, fruit juice and tissue products.
Horeca Trade’s new brand, ‘Sohat’ originates from the Falougha mountains in Lebanon. The natural mineral water’s name stands for good health. The glass bottle features a minimalist design, with the Sohat logo engraved on it, and can fit in with the concept of fine dining restaurants at a competitive price. Its purity and low mineral content make it incredibly light, leaving a distinctive taste. The new brand entered the market from July 1 in two different sizes, the 1L and 33cl.
Evian Pet Bottle
Evian’s new PET bottle has been launched in the Middle East, after its launch in away-from-home channel of UAE last year. Evian’s new bottle design is sleeker and with cleaner lines. The new “label-less” design leans on transparency. Its front features a simplified, elegant reduction of the previous logo design. The brand’s story is told on the back of the bottle, and ‘evian’ is carved into the base as a design touch.
Solán de Cabras
Solán de Cabras comes from a single spring in Beteta Velley, in the province of Cuenca in central Spain. Due to its low mineral content, Solán has a higher concentration of magnesium than average waters available in the market. The brand uses blue bottles to protect the water from sunlight, as well as to create an identity that stands out. It incorporates Braille texts on packaging, and is the most successful glass bottle of all time for the hospitality industry in Spain. Solán de Cabras is compliant with the Emirates Quality Mark certification of mandatory application for every bottled water brand commercialized within the UAE as per regulations of the Emirates Standardarization and Metrology Authority (ESMA). It also is ISO 9001 and ISO 22000 certified.
Badoit has recently redesigned its look to a more premium French elegant bottle and a more appealing design. The new bottle, which debuted at Fashion Forward Season 5 Dubai, is now available in the Middle East through selected restaurants and retailers.
Iain Farrell, Middle East zone director & commercial development director at Evian Volvic International, says: “Badoit is all about enjoying good food and its delicate fine bubbles provide a gastronomic difference to fine dining. The new design brings more premiumness to Badoit and clearly reflects French elegance and style the brand stands for.”
The new premium glass bottle comes in two sizes, 75cl and 33cl.
An assembly plant is being set up in Dubai for a sustainable water generation system. Dubai-based MAZ Gulf FZE has signed a master distribution agreement with WaterMicronWorld, supplier of Flow Innovation Technology (FIT) water generators, and expects to begin assembly of units for the international market from Jebel Ali Free Zone next year. Developed and patented by WaterMicronWorld, the FIT method is cheaper and more productive than existing water generation technology. Customers for the plants in the Middle East and Africa will be national water authorities.
“This is a breakthrough in the search for sustainable solutions to water shortage globally as a result of shrinking ice caps and lakes due to global warming, and increasing demands,” said Miran Ellahee, CEO of MAZ Gulf FZE, a green energy consultancy.
“It has the capacity to generate water in any part of the world, irrespective of the climate. From a business perspective, we believe we are at the forefront of the next billion dollar industry.” FIT technology generates water from the air and is therefore carbon neutral. Francisco Rodriguez, CEO of WaterMicronWorld, said: “FIT water generation plants have major advantages over methods such as desalination or reverse osmosis, which use existing water sources to clean water. They require a vast capital outlay and cause their own environmental problems.”
FIT water generators generate up to 10 million litres of water per day, and do it much more cheaply than desalination or reverse osmosis. The cost of producing water using FIT based on a 10 million litre per day plant is $0.0006 per litre or $0.60 cents per cubic metre. By comparison DEWA currently charges customers $0.0025 per litre or $2.50 per cubic metre.
Piyush Sehgal from Fairmont the Palm reveals how to create his winning fruit infusion, while using Voss water
• Green apples
• Kiwi fruit
• Slice the fruits.
• Keep on making the layers of the above ingredients through the bottle of water.
• Once you reach the top, place the mint for added decoration.
• Serve chilled.
Minimally mineralised Italian mineral water, Monviso, is planning to aggressively expand in the UAE and the Middle East, and has signed a partnership with the Al Jalila Foundation (a global philanthropic organisation dedicated to medical research founded by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum). It has now launched the initiative “Take Water. Give Life”, a donations programme, where for every 1 litre sold, Monviso will donate AED 1 (US $ 0.27) to the Al Jalila Foundation.
Furthermore, Monviso has established a dedicated recycling programme for plastic bottles. It will commit to collect and recycle empty bottles and will donate the net return from the sale of the recycled bottles to Al Jalila Foundation. The recycling machines and the collection will be Monviso’s responsibility — where bale machines will be supplied at cost price or FOC based on a minimum estimated consumption of water.
Monviso launched its distribution in the Middle East market in 2013 and Stefano Iorini, managing director of Memag Trading, the brand’s distributor in the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia says: “We have been supporting Al Jalila through The 7 Emirates Run for two editions, and we have confirmed the third one. We also partner with Skydive Dubai where we provide the water, and if anyone gives money for the water, we donate it to Al Jalila.”
The idea sprung from there, Iorini says, and “Take Water. Give Life” was born. So far, Aswaaq has been one retailer on board, and Iorini is looking to bring hospitality brands on board as well.
Iorini further explains the process: “All the sales made through them [participants in the initiative] will be audited, and the corresponding amount will be given to Al Jalila.
“We are going to redesign our website and have a dedicated section for this initiative and list all the people and companies who will participate.”
Speaking about the recycling programme, Iorini says: “Big hotels will have a large consumption of water; we will provide the baling machines, take the plastic back and sell to companies buying it to recycle.” The net amount will be donated to the charity, again, with an auditing process planned.
Explaining that entering the water market in this region is extremely competitive and difficult, he concludes: “I believe the initiative will be a good reason for hospitality groups to decide to use another water… the CSR element as well as recycling.”
Water is an important market in this region, and one that is extremely competitive to enter, with reportedly high barriers to entry. However, the imports of water products into the region continue unabated, and while the public is also campaigning for local water’s availability in restaurants and hotels, the tussle continues.
In addition, a parallel trend has emerged: customers are keen to know where their water comes from. Provenance has raised its head in this category as well as in ingredients. Monviso’s Stefano Iorini agrees and says: “Local water is all purified, and all the imported are natural mineral waters, so that is the big difference.
“To my surprise, there is a big percentage of people who are conscious about this.”
Horece Trade category manager beverage Hala Jaber says that the continuous growth of the Middle East economy and the high expectations for the Expo 2020 has brought many new players in the market in the past two years.
She continues: “There could have been even more, if during 2013, the government didn’t approve a regulation concerning all potable bottled water products, introduced by ESMA (Emirates Standardization and Metrology Authority).
“In order to comply and, consequently, to be able to sell the water in UAE, the water brands had to face new big costs and several small players had to leave the market.”
Any drinking water products which did not comply with the UAE Scheme for Drinking Water, approved by the UAE cabinet, and did not have the Emirates Quality Mark (conformity mark recognised by ESMA), were not allowed into the market either.
Masafi head of marketing Intikhab Alam says that consumer demands have also led to the proliferation of imported brands in the market. He explains that consumers continue to demand high quality premium water that is bottled from a natural source.
Alam says: “However, there is a large segment of consumers who are not aware or are misled as to the source of their bottled water. The demand for natural water has led to an influx of imported waters, especially from Turkey.
“In addition to these imported brands, there has been a proliferation of local water brands using desalinated sea water but using graphics and advertising depicting trees and waterfalls to confuse consumers about the source.
“There is also an increasing trend for brands to claim mineral composition as a selling point, however the levels of minerals in water are too low to be significant from a nutritional perspective.”
But have these companies, as suppliers, noticed a demand either way from restaurants and hotels, for local or imported water?
Iain Farrell, Middle East zone director & commercial development director at Evian Volvic International, says: “Depending on the brand value of each establishment, restaurants in the Middle East offer either local water only or both local and imported for variety. In some cases, it also depends on the chef. With the fine dining scene in the Middle East becoming more vibrant and competitive, chefs understand the importance of pairing their gourmet creations with companions that bring out the best flavours.”
Alam thinks it doesn’t matter. He explains: “We have seen that restaurants and consumers in the Middle East demand high quality premium water that is bottled from a natural source whether local or imported.
“Masafi has been bottling water at source through its factory in Ras Al Khaimah from underground water sources. When the UAE banned exporting underground water, we opened a Masafi facility in Oman to continue providing naturally sourced water to our customers in the Middle East markets.”
Jaber says it is difficult to pinpoint a generic trend in restaurants. She explains: “In the Middle East, we have cuisines from all over the world and the choice between imported and local water is mostly price-driven. If we talk about fine dining restaurants, then it’s clear that they won’t serve local water in PET bottles because the whole experience will be compromised. In more budget restaurants, it is hard to find an imported alternative.”
She also adds: “In countries like the UAE where there is a strong presence of Western expats, it is important to take into consideration sparkling mineral water consumption. Although the Middle East is by definition a “still water region”, in the UAE we see that sparkling mineral water represents 30% of the market if we talk about the horeca sector. Some local water brands have launched their bottled sparkling water but it is mostly addressed to the retail market.”