Baxter to Market Vitamin-Laced Water

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Medical products maker Baxter International Inc. (BAX.N) is set to unveil a line of vitamin-laced, bottled waters in its first foray into the consumer food and beverage market.

The water, called Pulse, will come in women's, men's and heart-health formulations in a variety of flavors.

The women's health formula, for example, contains soy isoflavons, calcium, magnesium, folic acid, and vitamins D, B6 and B12. Each 16.9-ounce bottle will contain about 40 calories, primarily from sucralose, a sugar substitute made from sugar cane. The products are designed to provide supplemental nutrition in a convenient form, Baxter said.

Deerfield, Illinois-based Baxter is drawing on its background as a maker of intravenous nutritional solutions as well as experience in plastic packaging, said company spokeswoman Deborah Spak.

The company, which also makes blood-clotting compounds, renal therapy products and vaccines, will initially roll out the bottled water in grocery and drug stores in Chicago and Phoenix, Arizona.

"We're testing the waters," said Spak. The $2 billion market for noncarbonated bottled water is the fastest-growing beverage category in the United States. It is dominated by PepsiCo Inc.'s (PEP.N) Aquafina, Perrier's Poland Spring and Coca-Cola Co.'s (KO.N) Dasani.

Brands of "fitness" water, which have added nutrients but fewer calories than sports drinks, on the market include Reebok Fitness Water and Gatorade's Propel Fitness Water.