Watch out coconut water - aloe vera-based drinks are being tipped as the next hot property in the healthy drinks market.

Consumers were increasingly aware of the digestive benefits, vitamin C and calcium content of aloe vera juice, said suppliers - who have predicted growing demand from supermarkets following strong sales in health stores such as Holland & Barrett and indies.

“Interest is quite phenomenal,” said Nyree Chamber, marketing head at distributor Grace Foods. “It’s going to get more competitive as it grows and I would not be surprised if own label went into aloe vera, as it has with coconut water.”

Grace, which is planning to offer aloe vera drinks in larger take-home formats and other flavours, added that it had struggled to keep up with demand after launching two new fruit flavours in January.

Aloe vera-based drinks had a high profile at last week’s IFE in London, with exhibiting brands including British/Vietnamese joint venture Aloe Fruit Burst Just Drink Aloe from UK supplier Thirst Quenchers Korean brand A+ and Aloe Coconut from Luthuanian business Mega Baltic.

Antrim-based Natural Import Company this month secured its first listings outside Northern Ireland for its Aloe Burst brand. “Aloe triggers thoughts of health supplements, but we want to remove the fear,” managing director Chris Martin said. “It’s a new concept in soft drinks but when people try it, they like it. Since January, demand has been growing week-on-week.” Aloe vera had been selling well in-store and online, said a spokeswoman for Holland & Barratt, adding that the retailer planned to introduce new flavour variations