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Beverage Innovation

Tracking The Drinks Marketplace


Coca-Cola Seeks Worldwide Patent For Pin Code Technology For Beverage Packaging

Coca-Cola has applied for an international patent to protect its technology for reading low-resolution, multi-character pin codes on bottle caps and cartons. The company applied for a U.S. patent in February 2017. The application uses artificial intelligence to allow smartphone-equipped buyers to scan reward codes associated with its loyalty program. In the patent application Coca-Cola said that the technology provides “commercially reliable results.” Packaging already contains QR codes, data matrix codes, and bar codes, but the new pin codes “can drive and really create completely new experiences for consumers,” according to a packaging executive.

Coca-Cola Looks For Opportunities In CBD-Infused Beverage Market

Coca-Cola has issued a statement confirming that it is “closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD (cannabidiol) as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world.” The company is one of many that are monitoring the development of CBD-infused beverages, or have – like Molson Coors Co. and Constellation Brands – invested in the segment. Bloomberg reported that Coca-Cola is discussing the possibility of new products with Aurora Cannabis Inc. of Vancouver, Canada.


Nestlé removes stabilizers in UHT milks in Brazil

In an effort to “simplify” the ingredient lists for its products, Nestlé’s Brazilian unit has removed the stabilizers used in the UHT (ultra-high-temperature pasteurization) long-life milks sold in the country under the brand names Ninho and Molico. The company said it is the first country where it has done this. In the U.S., Nestlé has removed GMO ingredients from its Buitoni products, and artificial colors, flavors, high fructose corn syrup, and GMO ingredients from six ice cream brands. It plans to eliminate artificial flavors and reduce the salt levels in pizzas and snacks sold in the U.S. 

Pakistan’s Chief Justice Orders Audit Of Nestlé's Mineral Water Operations

Acting on his own while hearing a case alleging exploitation of water resources by mineral water company, Pakistan’s chief justice ordered an audit of Nestlé's water business. Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar also ordered that water samples from all major mineral water companies be checked. Nisar said water had become a precious commodity in the country and bottled water companies were extracting water from the subsoil and selling it at exorbitant prices. “After this case, the companies will pay a suitable fee [for the water they use] and will sell [the mineral water] at a suitable price," Nisar said.

Other Companies

More Management Turnover At Sparkling Ice Parent Company Talking Rain

Talking Rain, maker of the fast-growing flavored water brand Sparkling Ice, has again announced management changes, naming current chief operating officer Chris Hall as CEO. In March 2017, the company announced that CEO Kevin Klock was abruptly departing his post and that his roles would be assumed by CFO Marcus Smith. With the current changes, Smith remains with the company as president. The company also named Sarah Gustat as vice president of marketing and Ken Sylvia as vice president of sales. Talking Rain also announced “a tremendous sales period throughout June, July and August” when it shipped 15 million cases of Sparkling Ice in the U.S.

Phivida Launches Line Of Functional Beverages Infused With Hemp Extract

Vancouver, Canada-based Phivida Holdings Inc. has launched the "Oki" line of functional beverages and supplements infused with active hemp extract that will be sold in 2,400 U.S. natural specialty store locations. Oki beverages are infused with 10 mg of active hemp extract per glass bottle and come in two different formulations: iced teas and flavor-infused water, each ranging in four different 16 oz flavors. Its supplements are available in tinctures or capsules in doses of 600-1800 total mg of active hemp extract. All products are non-GMO, contain natural and organic ingredients, and are plant-based and vegan friendly. Distribution will be handled by Natural Specialty Sales (NSS), a natural/specialty retail network that includes retailers such as Whole Foods Market, Sprouts Farmers Market, and National Co-op Grocers.

Botanical Beverage That Promotes Restfulness Is Back In Business

Ron Sosenko, a co-founder of the functional botanical beverage Koppla in the 1990s, admits he made some business mistakes over the years that eventually sent the company into a three-year hiatus. But former customers kept bugging him about his product, a calming blend of lemon balm, oat plant flower, linden flower, and other ingredients. Now, using the same formula, but rebranding as Kalm & On, the product has new packaging, a website, a distribution strategy, and new management. Kalm & On is sold as a 2.5-ounce liquid, but also in a teabag format. The company has also launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise capital ($50,000) and generate publicity. Sosenko says his former customers tell him: “We’re excited that you’re coming back.’”

Online Beverage Phenomenon Dirty Lemon Opens N.Y. “Walk-In Vending Machine”

The Dirty Lemon beverage brand of New York City is expanding its marketing plan from online-only to include a brick-and-mortar store – but with a twist. The company, which makes matcha-, rose-, and ginseng-flavored drinks for health-conscious consumers, has opened a store in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan that is essentially an unstaffed “walk-in vending machine.” Until now, the company has sold it beverages only online, having developed a devoted following through Millennials’ Instagram posts. At the new store, shoppers use cellphones to text, order and pay without a credit card or human interaction. The company would not reveal plans for more store openings, but noted that it will be shifting "all of its digital marketing spend to retail in 2019."

New CEO Of MATI Aims To Keep Company “Scrappy” While Building National Presence

Former Coca-Cola executive Eric Masters says he aims to build on the entrepreneurial spirit of the founder of guayusa-based energy drink MATI to make the brand a national success. Founder Tatiana Birgisson started MATI while an undergraduate at Duke University in 2012, but decided to leave the company earlier this year. While MATI is undergoing a restructuring, Masters says he is focused on growing the product’s retail presence on the East Coast heading into 2019, taking an omni-channel approach to expansion. It will build out its direct store delivery network by adding to its 1,200 current points of distribution. Noting that natural energy drinks are now pretty much mainstream, Masters nevertheless hopes to retain the “scrappy attitude and enthusiasm” that convinced him to invest in MATI two years ago.

Focus Says Tender Offer For Jamba Juice Shares Is Complete

Focus Brands has completed the tender offer for all outstanding shares of Jamba, Inc., a smoothie and juice franchisor. Jamba sells freshly blended whole fruit and vegetable smoothies, bowls, juices, cold-pressed shots, boosts, snacks, and meal replacements at 800 locations worldwide. Focus said it plans to grow the Jamba business with existing Jamba franchisees, and introducing the Jamba brand to “a new group of entrepreneurs." Other brands owned by Focus include Carvel, Cinnabon, Schlotzsky's, Moe's Southwest Grill, and Auntie Anne's. 

Cannabis Greenhouse Builder Crop Infrastructure Is Developing Cannabis-Infused Beverages

Crop Infrastructure Corp., a Canadian builder and lessor of cannabis greenhouses in the U.S. and elsewhere, is developing a new cannabis-infused line of soft drinks. The functional Canna Drink line will be zero- calorie, non-GMO, ketogenic-friendly carbonated sodas that will include tea and coffee versions. As legalization of cannabis spreads, Crop sees a large and growing marketing opportunity that is attracting the attention of big beverage companies. The company also notes that cannabis-infused beverages offer an “axillary opportunity” for its cultivation tenants globally. Crop CEO Michael Yorke said the medical benefits of cannabis “will enhance our own formulations, so we are bang on target with our Canna Drink line."

Young Americans Spurn Soda, Turn To Water, Milk

A report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that, between 2013 and 2016, water and milk accounted for two-thirds of the beverages consumed by young Americans (aged two to 19). The findings support other data showing that consumption of sodas and other sugary beverages has dropped in the last ten years. The report also showed that soda consumption differs by gender and ethnicity. Soda comprised 30 percent of daily beverages consumed by black children and teens compared to 22 percent for Hispanics, 18 percent for whites and just nine percent for Asians. Water accounted for nearly 44 percent of all the beverages consumed, followed by milk (22 percent), soda (20 percent), 100-percent fruit juice (seven percent) and other drinks (eight percent). The report was compiled using data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2013-2016.

Meal Replacement Beverage Company Gains Venture Capital Infusion

Austrian food and beverage investor Square One Foods has acquired a seven percent interest in Saturo Foods of Vienna, Austria. Founded in early 2017, Saturo makes a range of RTD meal replacement drinks formulated with proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. The target market is individuals with busy lifestyles. One 500 ml bottle contains up to 25 percent of the daily balanced nutrient intake. Square One’s “six figure round” will be used to finance distribution plans, recruit additional manpower, and expand product lines, the company said. Saturo is discussing a large Series A funding round within 6-9 months. The company says it has “the potential to establish a new category of meal replacement drinks and will soon be an integral part of our beverage range, like Red Bull or Coca-Cola."

Optimum Nutrition’s New Sports-Energy Line Includes An RTD Sparkling Drink

Illinois-based protein powder marketer Optimum Nutrition has debuted two formats of its Essential Amin.O.Energy Plus Electrolytes beverage: a powder and an RTD sparkling drink. The new drink contains amino acids to help support muscle recovery and natural caffeine for energy plus electrolytes. Optimum’s Essential Amino.O.Energy line is mainly a variety of sugar-free protein powders in four flavors that contain caffeine (100 mg) derived from green tea and green coffee bean extract. Other ingredients include five grams of amino acids and minerals potassium and sodium.

Harris Tea Company Acquires Mass Market Tea Brands Red Rose, Salada

Harris Tea Company of Moorestown, N.J., maker of private label teas, has purchased the tea manufacturing assets of Redco Foods and completed a license agreement for the Red Rose and Salada tea brands for the U.S. market. Together the two companies have more than 100 years of expertise in tea sourcing, buying, manufacturing, selling and marketing. Harris tea brands now include Red Rose, Salada, Newman’s Own Organic Tea, Southern Breeze Sweet Tea, Big Tea, Tea India, Chai Moments; and Wonder Drink Kombucha and Secret Squirrel Cold Brew Coffee through its affiliate company, Pure Steeps.

Mobtown Fermentation Unveils New Blueberry Yerba Maté Kombucha To Lineup

Kombucha brewer Mobtown Fermentation of Baltimore, Md., has added Blueberry Yerba Maté flavor to its Wild Kombucha line. The new variant uses the same fermented tea base that provides the taste and carbonation in its other products, but adds roasted yerba maté tea, traditionally grown and brewed in South America, The flavor will be released September 22 and  be available in the 400 locations that carry Wild Kombucha throughout the mid-Atlantic region, including Whole Foods and MOM’S Organic Markets.

Thailand’s Energy Drink Maker Ostospa Files For IPO

Family-owned Thai beverage company Osotspa Pcl of Bangkok is planning an initial public offering of 506.7 million primary shares and 97 million secondary shares to raise as much as $464 million to fund expansion overseas. The expansion will include construction of a plant in Myanmar and other facility improvements. Osotspa makes the M-150 and Shark Stimulation energy drinks brands and personal care products. Shark Energy Drink comes in several variants, including carbonated, uncarbonated, sugar-sweetened and sugar-free.

Organic Valley Cuts Sugar In Organic Balance Milk Shake By 30 Percent, Updates Packaging

Organic farmers cooperative Organic Valley (La Farge, Wis.) has reformulated, repackaged, and repositioned its shelf-stable fair-trade milk protein shake Organic Balance in response to consumer preferences and retailer interest. Now known as Organic Valley Breakfast Balance, the beverage contains 30 percent less sugar, but retains the 16 grams of protein and 40 percent of the recommended daily allowance of calcium. It contains no GMOs, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides or artificial sweeteners.  The redesigned packaging now emphasizes the fact that it is an on-the-go breakfast “packed with enough nutrition for the most important meal of the day.” Available in vanilla and dark chocolate flavors, the milk is sold in 11 oz. single serve containers ($2.99), 4-packs ($10.99), and 24-packs ($24.99).

Coca-Cola Acquires Australian Kombucha Maker MOJO

Coca-Cola Australia has acquired Adelaide-based kombucha brewer MOJO for an undisclosed sum. According to reports, the two companies hope to use Coke’s distribution strengths and beverage marketing expertise to "supercharge" MOJO's sales, at the same time diversifying Coca-Cola's portfolio. Husband-and-wife team Anthony and Sarah Crabb launched the Organic & Raw Trading Co in 2009 after several years of experimentation, first selling their brew at farmers' markets and health food shops. MOJO drinks are now stocked at retailers including Woolworths and IGA supermarkets, with annual sales of between $5 million and $7 million a year. Coca-Cola has invested in U.S. companies that make kombucha, but MOJO is the first manufacturer it had bought outright.
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