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Beverage Innovation

Tracking The Drinks Marketplace


Coca-Cola Hopes To Make The Most Of Growing Chinese Interest In Functional Drinks

The head of Coca-Cola’s China business says “the next big thing” among Chinese consumers – especially the growing class of middle-income consumers – is functional beverages beneficial for health and wellness. With that in mind, the company expects to offer more juice products, beverages containing fiber, and even drinks based on traditional Chinese medicine, according to Curt Ferguson. Coca-Cola began riding the trend when it rolled out new products like sugar-free Sprite with fiber in March, two RTD tea products in North China and South China in the second quarter, and a bottled water range containing fiber in June. A fiber-rich Coca-Cola Plus version for China debuted in August. Bottled water, RTD tea, carbonates, juice drinks, and functional drinks were the biggest sellers in the $84 billion Chinese beverage industry. 

Coca-Cola Acquires U.K. Coffee Shop Chain Costa In Bid For A Share Of The Booming Coffee Market

Gambling on the continued popularity of coffee, and apparently undeterred by the prospect of competing against Starbucks Coca-Cola has acquired British coffee-shop chain and roastery Costa – with its 3,800 cafés – in a deal worth $5.1 billion. A few analysts were skeptical of the deal, noting that 2,500 of Costa’s locations are in the U.K. and wondering why the soft drinks giant would enter the unfamiliar world of bricks-and-mortar retail. But Coke CEO James Quincey said the acquisition amounted to a wager on the burgeoning global coffee business: a “coffee strategy, not a retail strategy.” The company has no current plans to open Costa coffee shops in the U.S., but will bring Costa coffee vending machines and beans to U.S. gas stations, college campuses, and quick-service restaurants. 


Nestlé Waters NA To Continue Aggressive Marketing Of Sparkling Water Brands

Nestlé Waters NA says it plans to aggressively market its sparkling water brands until household penetration equals that of its still water products. According to the company, 40 million households purchase its still water products, while about 13 million homes buy Nestlé the new sparkling water offerings. The company revamped the sparkling water line with new packaging, flavor formulation, and a nationwide media campaign, including TV ads across each of its six regional sparkling water brands. After nine months, household penetration has doubled over a year ago. Sam Martin, brand business director, said the aggressive promotion will continue “until we’ve managed to get that 100 percent overlap” with the still water household penetration. Nielsen data show that Nestlé Waters NA outpaced the competition over the four weeks ending July 14, growing 52 percent in sales compared to 29.7 percent of the overall sparkling water category. “We don’t plan to take the foot off the gas in any way, shape, or form,” Martin said.

Other Companies

Wanu Water Sees Rapid National Distribution Expansion

Nutrient-infused water company Wanu Water of Los Angeles, Calif., said it has landed six retail chain store accounts in the Pacific Northwest, Ohio, and Pennsylvania representing 2,200 locations. The company is also testing its products in 30 Target stores in two states, and in other stores in New York City and Texas. Wanu Water contains 10 nutrients – including B vitamins, fiber and antioxidants – and is sweetened with monk fruit. The brand recently added two flavors, coconut mango and blueberry lemonade, to the range, which also includes dark cherry, kiwi cucumber, watermelon raspberry, passion peach, and strawberry serrano lime. The company said it will launch in over 4,000 CVS stores in January.

Start-Up Hopes To Make A Big Splash In U.S. Market With Antioxidant-Rich Aronia Juice

Los Angeles-based beverage start-up Truronia has launched four flavors of antioxidant-rich fruit juice made with 100 percent organic aronia berries. The antioxidant-rich RTD drink can be consumed by itself or mixed into smoothies and recipes. According to the company, aronia berries contain more antioxidants than cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries. The fruit is a common staple in Europe, though it is also native to the United States. Health benefits include improved digestion, reduced inflammation, and a boosted immune system. The company says its goal is to reintroduce the superfruit to the United States, where the berry is still relatively unknown. Truronia juice is stocked in stores like Erewhon and Mother’s Market & Kitchen throughout southern California and Nebraska, with plans to expand into more cities across the U.S. The juices can also be found online in packs of six, or in variety packages that include mango, pineapple, coconut, and original aronia flavors,

Calorie-Packed Starbucks Frappuccino Is Reformulated To Appeal To Health-Conscious Customers

After an “incredibly challenging” two-year reformulation program, Starbucks has introduced a reduced-sugar version of its “decadent” Frappuccino drink in an attempt to retain health-conscious customers. The standard 16-ounce Mocha Frappuccino contained 410 calories, many more calories than a 1.86-ounce Snickers (250 calories). Starbucks tested more than 20 types of cream and 70 vanilla flavorings and developed a new bottle to make sure the right amounts of flavor are dispensed. In fiscal 2015, café sales of the blended Frappuccinos represented 14 percent of revenue but now account for 11 percent of café revenue. The new version isn’t as dense and sugary, containing 50 fewer calories, 18 fewer grams of sugar and 150 fewer milligrams of sodium than the original.

Baristas Coffee Enters Functional Beverage Market

Kenmore, Wash.-based Baristas Coffee Company introduced what it calls a “boutique coffee product,” Baristas White Coffee, on Amazon and has begun product and distribution channel development for its expanded line of alternative and functional coffee SKUs. The products contain vitamins, minerals, nutraceuticals, and other additives that are legal in the state where they are distributed. The coffees are targeted at health-conscious consumers, especially Millennials, looking for nutrients such as vitamins, protein, extended energy, and probiotics along with functionality that addresses joint health, heart health, memory support, and diabetes. CEO Barry Henthorn said coffee is “a perfect daily vehicle for the delivery of a variety of healthy supplements, herbs, and vitamins.” Baristas White Coffee single-serve cups are compatible with the Keurig 2.0 brewing system.

Push Beverages Plans Westward U.S. Expansion

N.J.-based Push Beverages says its portfolio of carbonated and noncarbonated drinks are now sold in thirty-eight states with plans to spread west in the near future. The company recently added a strawberry-flavored variant to its range of fruit-flavored sodas that include pineapple, peach, orange, grape and diet orange. Push Strawberry soda is naturally and artificially flavored, gluten free and kosher, and 270 calories per 20 oz bottle. Push Beverages are available in 12-ounce, 20-ounce and 2 liter packages under the Push, Push-2-O, Arctic Rain And Tribe Tea Brands The company also sells traditional flavors like cola, ginger ale, and root beer. 

Britvic Ireland Debuts Resealable Bottle For Its Sparkling Fruit-Flavored Waters

Britvic Ireland has unveiled a new resealable bottle for its low-sugar beverage line. Ballygowan Sparklingly Fruity, with 36 calories per bottle, is made with naturally sourced sweeteners from the stevia plant and with lightly sparkling Irish spring water. It is available at $2.09 a bottle in apple, elderflower and lemon, and raspberry and blackberry flavors. Britvic Ireland recently reintroduced Club Zero Super Split to the Irish market during the summer, after a successful limited edition launch the previous summer.

Removing Color From Familiar Beverages Seems To Be A Magic Formula

Japanese and U.S. beverage makers believe that clear-colored drinks, no matter the flavor, are preferred by health-conscious consumers because they can be enjoyed “without any hesitation.” It’s getting to be a global trend as companies add new flavors and new products as consumer tastes shift beyond traditional drinks like soda. Sales of flavored bottled-water brands have more than doubled in the U.S. and Japan in the last five years, mainly because consumers perceive them as “modern, healthy, cool sort of beverages.” Suntory removed the color from its nonalcoholic beer, added lime flavoring and boosted the carbonation, sells a clear beverage that tastes like tea with milk, and a peach tea-flavored water. Asahi Group Holdings’ soft drinks unit sells a 60-calorie latte espresso water called Clear Latte. Coca-Cola Co. Japan launched zero-calorie, lemon-flavored “Coca-Cola Clear” in June, and PepsiCo reintroduced Crystal Pepsi for a limited time.

Iceland Ponders Heavy Regulation Or Ban Of High-Caffeine Energy Drinks

Some nutritionists in Iceland are advocating that sale of the strongest energy drinks should be heavily regulated or completely banned because of potentially unsafe levels of caffeine. The British government is looking at the possibility of banning the sale of energy drinks to those younger than 17 or 16; Icelandic law forbids the sale of strong energy drinks to children under the age of 18. A University of Iceland nutrition professor says the strongest energy drinks should be banned or heavily regulated because they contain three to five times the caffeine of energy drinks manufactured ten years ago. Iceland has banned the import of Moose Juice because of dangerously high levels of vitamins B6 and B12.

In India, Flavored And Functional Waters Are A Small But Growing Market

Indian consumers provide a natural market for bottled water, which is considered a necessity because of chronic shortages of potable water. But a growing submarket in the country is functional or flavored water, demand for which is growing among Millennials and even older shoppers. The market for functional water is nevertheless a tiny portion of the $1.3 billion bottled water market. But Mintel says between 2013 and 2017, 15 percent of bottled water launches in India contained vitamins and minerals, and 28 percent were flavored. Among the companies catering to the growing demand for functional or flavored (with fruits or herbs) waters are: G7 Beverages (Alkalen alkaline water); NourishCo Beverages (Himalayan Orchard Pure flavored mineral water); Infuze (flavored); UAE-based Malaki (Malaki Alkaline water); and Coca-Cola, which introduced Glaceau Smartwater to India late last year. 

ITC To Compete In India With Coca-Cola In Milk-Based Beverage Segment

Indian conglomerate ITC will take on rivals Coca-Cola, Amul, and Britannia with next month’s launch of a line of RTD milk-based beverages to be called Sunfeast Wonderz. The drinks will be introduced in four southern Indian states before going national. The milkshakes will be made with fruit pulp and contain no artificial flavors. The company said there has been significant growth in RTD milk-based drinks as consumer preferences shift toward more healthful beverages and “innovative offerings in this segment could have great potential for the future."

Joy Organics’ New Workout Recovery Drink Contains Cannabidiol

Joy Organics of Fort Collins, Colo., has introduced what it says is the world's first zero-THC CBD energy and workout recovery drink mix. The cannabidiol-based CBD Energy + Focus Drink helps improve focus and mental clarity with 75 mg of caffeine, “a natural carrier of CBD,” which counters lactic acid production and speeds the body's clearance of it to reduce muscle cramps and soreness, nausea, rapid breathing, inflammation and stomach pain. A packet of the powder mixes with water and can be consumed 30-60 minutes before or after an intense workout. The powder contains 12.5 mg of cannabidiol (CBD) as well as other minor cannabinoids, 40 naturally present terpenes, and a blend of amino acids and vitamins. CBD Energy + Focus Drink Mix is now available via the company's website for $19.75 for five packets; $35 for 10 packets and $60 for 20 packets, or individually for $3.95 each.

Celsius Holdings Expands Distribution Of Energy Beverage Favored By Hispanics

Acknowledging strong demand from a growing Hispanic Millennial market, Florida-based Celsius Holdings is expanding distribution of its recently-introduced Kiwi Guava energy drink flavor among national retailers that serve Latin American grocery shoppers. Celsius has been expanding rapidly since its multimillion-dollar investment from Asian investor Li Ka-Shing. The new guava-flavored beverage will be sold at national retailers like Target, GNC, 7-Eleven, and military post exchanges worldwide. The company says its product appeal to health-conscious consumers looking to avoid or reduce consumption of artificial flavors, colors, and sugar. The company earlier this year reported a 60 percent growth in revenue.
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