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Drink Tank

Grab a cold one and read on to uncover the latest trends in the beverage industry.

By Michelle Prather

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In an era when a beverage's claim to fame is twice as muchcaffeine, and milk is going carbonated, it's hard to believethe next big thing is . . . water. According to Beverage MarketingCorp. of New York City, water is the fastest-growing major U.S.beverage category, expected to surpass coffee and milk to takesecond in volume only to soft drinks by 2004.

Now you've got four companies dominating the bottled watermarket-Pepsi, Danone, Coke and Perrier Group of America-butthat's where the twist comes in. According to John Rodwan,editorial director for Beverage Marketing Corp., you'reexpecting too much if you're shooting for No. 1, butthere's a good chance your product can attain underdog statusand significant sales if you either try for regional success bytouting the water's source, or add a special something-aningredient or other element-to plain old water. Rodwan expectsenhanced water fortified with calcium, caffeine or added flavors togrow "very, very quickly" this year. But he's notsure whether, over the long term, "that's going to satisfyconsumers when they simply want water-or if it's an areathat's just a little too peculiar."

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