Highland Spring is the latest branded water to try and raise its game in the children's soft drinks market, as schools throw out sugary beverages in favour of healthier alternatives.

The supplier's sparkling variant of its Highland Spring for Kids is set to join the still version on shelves in August. The first sparkling kids' water targeting the multiple grocer sector, according to the company, it will be launched exclusively into Sainsbury's in packs of 12 at £3.35.

"There is no dedicated kids' sparkling water in the market," said marketing director Sally Stanley. "We know children love bubbles and fizz and the sparkling version of Highland Spring for Kids will offer a natural, sugar-free option to help them stay hydrated."

The company said it had received a warm reception from buyers and that plans were in the pipeline for a national roll-out.

"The reaction has been positive and Sainsbury's agreed to take the product exclusively," said Stanley. "It understands the growth and potential of the kids' water category."

With children's health a big issue at the moment, mineral water suppliers have been repositioning their offers to meet the needs of consumers looking for healthier alternatives to soft drinks.

Highland Spring recently reconfigured its Highland Spring for Kids pack and split the 12-pack format into two six-packs to make it easier for retailers to merchandise.

Other suppliers have offered healthier options in the kids' drinks market. Britvic has been investing in Fruit Shoot H2O this year and Panda reformulated its children's soft drinks by adding real fruit juice and removing 'nasties'.

However, the carbonated bottled water market has struggled in recent years, down 2.1% year-on-year, according to TNS [52 w/e 3 December].