More than 50% used some form of passive health claim, while 18% used active health claims, according to research conducted during the 12 months to the end of June.
The most popular health-related claims focused on naturalness and freedom from artificial additives and preservatives. They included a wide range of products, led by water.
Also, juices tend to be seen as inherently natural, or can be relatively easily formulated to use this type of claim, said Innova.
More than 23% of launches were marketed as free from additives and preservatives, while nearly 13% used natural claims.
Combining the two categories resulted in more than 30% of total soft drinks launches using either one or both claims.
Organic claims were used for more than 5% of launches during the review period.
Fruit juices and drinks dominated launch activity accounting for over 43% of the total launches. Their popularity reflected “the extremely diverse range of products included in the category”, said Innova.
Carbonates took second place with 14%, just ahead of concentrates and mixes.
Next followed: iced tea and coffee drinks, sports and energy drinks, plain and flavored water and sports and energy drinks.
During the past five years, the shares of carbonates, juices and juice drinks, concentrates and mixes and iced tea and coffee have risen, concluded the researchers.
But the shares of bottled water (flavoured and unflavoured) and sports and energy drinks have fallen.
Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights, said this does not indicate a poor market performance.
Sports and energy drinks
“Sports and energy drinks remain one of the fastest-growing sectors of the market over that period, despite their share of global soft drinks launch activity falling from a peak of 13% in 2005 to just under 7% today,” said Williams.
“Consolidation in the increasingly mature market, particularly the greater dominance of multinational brands and the disappearance of many smaller brands is probably the main reason for slowing activity rates, although actual launch numbers did still rise over the five-year period," she said.
Last weekend, Tesco and Asda admitted selling tap water in own-label branded bottles. While both retailers acknowledged the water came from a mains supply, it was subject to additional filtration processes, they claimed.
Own brand bottled still water sells for about 17p for two litres, alongside global mineral water brands such as Perrier and Evian.
Meanwhile, manufacturers of all products, which have traditionally made health claims, will need to find clever ways of differentiating them from others on supermarket shelves from December when the number of health claims that can legally be made will be dramatically cut.
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