Unlike syrup, which is boiled down into a thick, sticky liquid, maple water is made from unprocessed sap that is 98 percent water. Its growing popularity is a boon for local farmers.
Kate Weiler was in Mount Tremblant, Quebec, when she found bottled maple water in a local coffee shop. With one sip, she was hooked on the single-ingredient water with a hint of sweetness.
“I loved the idea that it was natural, plant-based hydration from a local, sustainable source that tasted great,” says Weiler.
Maple water wasn’t sold in her hometown of Saint Albans, Vt. In the process of searching for — and failing to find — a source where she could order it, Weiler decided to launch a business to bring the functional beverage to market.
Drinkmaple hit store shelves in 2014. Around the same time, several other brands of maple water came online. Weiler welcomed the competition because she believed it brought attention to the category. The drinks usually retail for about $3 to $5 for a 12- to 17-ounce bottle.
“People have been drinking maple water from buckets on sap farms for hundreds of years,” she says. “We like to say that the un-trendiest beverage is now trending.”
While demand has increased — global market research firm Technavio estimates the market for maple water will increase 30 percent by 2020 — there are still misconceptions about the product.
“We’re so programmed to think of sap as sticky and gooey,” explains Valentina Cugnasca, co-founder and CEO of maple water manufacturer Vertical Water. “It takes a lot of consumer education to explain what maple water really is.”
The supply chain for maple water and maple syrup are the same: Farmers tap maple trees and collect the sap when it starts to flow in the spring. Unlike syrup, which is boiled down into a thick, sticky liquid, maple water is made from unprocessed sap that is 98 percent water. It goes from tree to bottle with no additives or preservatives.
“Nothing is cleaner than our ingredient label,” Weiler says…
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