Product launches and increased distribution have reinforced coconut water's position as a product to watch in 2011, say industry observers.

In the same week that coconut water brand Vita Coco was rolled out to 250 Tescos across the UK, Freedom Brands unveiled Go Coco at the IFE show at London's ExCel.

Coconut water, which is said to be a natural alternative to sports and energy drinks, could become a £100m category in the UK over the next few years, said industry watchers.

"In terms of scaleability, the coconut water market is huge," said Vita Coco Europe chief executive Giles Brook. The brand had grown 1,200% during 2010 to £4m, having been listed in 50 Waitroses last February and rolled out across the entire chain by November.

The Tesco listing came about after shoppers asked the retailer to stock the brand, which is sold in TetraPak packaging in five variants and three sizes: 330ml (rsp: £1.49), 500ml sports cap packs (rsp: £2.49) and one-litre (£3.49).

The range faces competition from Go Coco, which is sold in 500ml sports-cap bottles priced £1.89.

High-profile endorsement by celebrities such as Madonna had helped to grow sales of coconut water, said Lou Ellerton, consultant at branding agency The Value Engineers, but she warned there was still work to be done.

"If coconut water is truly going to become the player that brands such as Vita Coco claim it will, building salience will be key, whether through PR activity, ­sampling or television advertising."