Where’s the water?

A friend walks into a grocery store and heads down the drink aisle to buy bottled water. Checking high and low and even in the bulls-eye zone, she finds no water. Check that. No plain water.

Sugar water (AKA sports and energy drinks) and vitamin water were plentiful; of course, soda shelves were laden but water? Where was it?

How did we get to this point? Good advertising and marketing strategies is my best guess. If they can convince us that we could challenge Usain Bolt by drinking a sports drink or have energy like we did 20 years ago, we’ll buy it. And we do.

Add some vitamins to a snack food and you’re going to increase sales. The Food and Drug Administration allows manufacturers to add vitamins and minerals to foods. It’s termed food fortification. While the FDA says their policy “discourages” fortification of cookies, chips, carbonated beverages and such, they don’t forbid it.

The rest of the story? Manufacturers add vitamins to water and we buy it. Fortified chips? Yep, toss the bag into the cart. In fact, a study of over 5000 shoppers showed they will buy unhealthy foods if they were labeled “vitamin-fortified”. Shoppers were less likely to read the Nutrition Facts label, more likely to perceive the product (chips!!) were healthy, and less likely to choose a healthier product based on the “advertising” side of the label – the front of package.

Let’s review. Water doesn’t need sugar nor added vitamins. We can’t make traditional “snack” foods healthier by adding vitamins. We can’t outrun Usain Bolt.

If you want healthier snack foods with vitamins, shop the perimeter of the store. With all the produce at markets and stores now, tis the season to be well,


PS “Bulls eye” shelves are the 2nd and 3rd shelves counting from the top. Highest price and highest mark-up foods are stocked on these shelves, the ones an adult sees first.

Permanent link to this article: http://marciacrawford.net/archives/water