Costco Shoppers Are Confused By This Sparkling Water Label

Glancing at the vegetarian and vegan food options available in your standard supermarket, you may find yourself perplexed trying to always understand what is contained within the packages. So many meat-free alternatives are labeled with marketing catchphrases that often lead to more confusion. Costco shoppers found themselves in a similar predicament when faced with Yerbaé, a "plant-based" sparkling water infused with yerba mate. Leading many to wonder, isn't all water essentially plant-based? As with any baffling shopping experience, customers made their way to social media, specifically the Costco Subreddit, to ponder over what is inside each can.

Amidst the numerous comments, Redditor @bradlau teased, "Is there a beef-flavored La Croix that I don't know about?" You can bet that spawned discussions regarding hot dog water and other meat-flavored drinks. While the thought might sound ridiculous, Insider reports that Vancouver festivalgoers spent $38 on bottled hot dog water that was claimed to aid in weight loss. Another Redditor @x3434x even joked, "Costco sells a brisket grease-flavored drink here in Texas."

Isn't all water technically plant-based?

With a voice of reason, Reddit user @feedtwobirds suggested, "Maybe the reason for the labeling is because some products you think would so obviously be vegan are not because they have something like gelatin in it." The user also indicated that the ingredients on yerba mate labels include natural flavors. After further researching the definition of natural flavors, according to the US Food and Drug Administration, the term can be used to refer to dozens of ingredients including meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, or dairy products. Consequently, it doesn't seem so far-fetched that a beverage such as Yerbaé, containing natural flavors, might not be vegan, unless specified.

Along with the puzzlement regarding the content of the Yerbaé cans, many Redditors also commented on the marketing lingo. User @enowapi said, "It's basically buzz words to make people think they're eating healthy." Meanwhile, @spud_boy suggested it was a way to sell vegan food to non-vegans, without creating a labeling barrier. Food Business News even published an article with the do's and don'ts of how to market plant-based foods, recommending that the term vegan be avoided. Redditor @DrSandbags agreed and noted, "Plant-based is less threatening from a marketing standpoint." It's not clear that the alternate vocabulary is working for the broader public. All the same, it's certainly creating some buzz around the new Yerbaé drinks!