Entrepreneurs Tap Local Resources for Trendy Maple Drinks

PHOTO: As more maple water companies have emerged in the US, consumption is on the rise.

First there was Vitamin Water, then coconut water. Now a new entrant to the health beverage market is hoping to excite fans with an alternative hydration product that has deep roots in North America.

Introducing ... "maple water."

Made using the sap that courses through tree trunks during the spring, maple waters are being marketed as all natural, nutrient-rich beverages that not only can help endurance athletes recover from workouts but also leaves less of a carbon footprint than tropical fruit-based waters.

"The benefits of maple are the same benefits that are powerful enough to wake up the maple trees from a long winter sleep. So imagine the powerful effects it has to give people energy, nourishment and vitality," said Kate Weiler, co-founder of DRINKmaple, which will release its first batch of maple water mid May.

Drinking tree sap is not a new concept, she is also quick to point out.

"Indigenous people of North America had been drinking maple sap as a tonic long before it was common practice to boil the sap down to make sugar," she said, noting that "In South Korea, people drink maple sap for the health properties and as part of a detoxifying ritual as well by drinking five gallons at a time."

But what is new is the interest a handful of entrepreneurs have taken in the natural resource. In addition to DRINKmaple, other companies like Vertical Water based in Pittsfield, Pa., and SEVA located in Quebec are already being sold in stores.

All claim that the beverage, if undiluted, is rich in vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, polyphenols, antioxidants, prebiotics and other attributes. The claims have attracted an early interest from health-minded consumers and various athletic communities such as running, yoga and cycling.

"When we launch in May, maple will be available in local health food stores, high end fitness establishments and we are in talks with large like-minded natural grocery stores," said Weiler. "Active and health conscious people are extremely excited about drinking maple."

Whether mainstream America can get past misconceptions that maple water is the consistency of pine sap ("it's the consistency of water," said Weiler) or a byproduct of maple syrup ("this is not the case at all") may make immediate supermarket domination a little sticky.

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