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Beverage Innovation

Tracking The Drinks Marketplace


Coca-Cola Introduces Smart Vending Machine In China

As part of its World Without Waste program, Coca-Cola in China unveiled the new VenCycling vending machine that features facial recognition and voice interaction and allows customers to return packaging for recycling. The company said the machine has AI LEDs and two “eyes,” one that dispenses beverages and one that collects used bottles and cans. When customers return used cans or plastic bottles to the machine, they receive credits on their smartphones for beverages or products made from recycled plastics.

Coca-Cola Completes Divestiture Of Canadian Bottling Unit

The Coca-Cola Company has completed another step of its refranchising plan with the divestiture of the Coca-Cola Refreshments Canada (CCRC) bottling division to Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Limited (CCCBL), which will take control of all Coca-Cola bottling and distribution operations across Canada. Those operations include 50 sales and distribution centers and five production facilities. Coca-Cola signed a non-binding divestiture agreement with Canadian businessman Larry Tanenbaum and with Junior Bridgeman, CEO of Kansas City-based Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Company.

Coca-Cola Adds Cinnamon-Flavored Variant To Zero Sugar Lineup

Coca-Cola will offer a limited-edition cinnamon-flavored Coke to its zero-sugar range in the U.K. The new flavor will be sold in 500 ml and 1.25-liter bottles beginning this month through the end of the year. Coca-Cola has announced a new cinnamon flavor for the festive season. The company said it launched the cinnamon-flavored beverage because of the “general public’s love of the flavor.”

Keurig Dr Pepper

KDP To Buy Premium Bottled Water Company CORE Nutrition

Burlington, Mass.-based Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP) announced it will acquire premium bottled water company CORE Nutrition LLC for $525 million, or about $435 million net of anticipated tax benefits, funded with KDP common stock. The CORE Nutrition portfolio includes CORE Hydration, a premium, nutrient-enhanced bottled water, and CORE Organic, a USDA-certified organic enhanced fruit hydration. Founded in 2015, CORE has been a KDP-allied brand since 2016, with KDP handling about two-thirds of the brand's U.S. distribution. According to KDP, net sales of all CORE beverages have grown at an average annual rate of approximately 115 percent over the past three years. Retail sales over the past year have been about $200 million. The acquisition puts KDP head to head against competitors PepsiCo and Coca-Cola in the water business.

FORTO To Launch Full-Size RTD “Energy Coffee” Line To Compete With Monster

Year-old FORTO Coffee Shots, an allied brand of Keurig Dr Pepper and the top-selling RTD organic coffee brand in America, is taking on Starbucks and Monster with the upcoming launch of a full-size RTD “Energy Coffee” line. The company listened to retailers who encouraged it to develop a larger package that could live in to-go coolers but not compete directly with other cold brew brands. The new organic line features three 11 oz. SKUs at $2.99 each in packaging modeled after the brand’s coffee-cup style shots that feature a resealable cap. Flavors include chocolate, coffee, and vanilla lattes made with cold brew coffee and whole milk, each with 200 mg of caffeine. The line will ship in December to roughly 15,000 accounts; retail partnerships are being finalized. The brand is launching a $15 million marketing campaign focused on digital video and social media, to promote the launch.


Bang Energy Calls Monster’s Lawsuit “Frivolous, Outlandish”

On Sept. 4, Monster Energy sued Florida-based Vital Pharmaceutical, makers of Bang Energy under the VPX Sports label, in a federal court in California, alleging Bang was the equivalent of “modern-day snake oil.” Monster alleges that Vital founder Jack Owoc claimed that Bang could treat Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and other forms of dementia. Vital and Owoc recently issued a scorching response to the lawsuit saying “all of Monster’s claims are frivolous, outlandish, unsubstantiated, unproven and without merit.” The statement did not indicate that the company is planning to file a counterclaim against Monster. 


Big Beverage Firms Are Angling For A Bigger Share Of The Sparkling Water Market

Sparkling water is a small but fast-growing segment of the $16 billion bottled water market, with U.S. consumers expected to purchase around 821 billion gallons of the bubbly stuff this year. It’s a fact that has not escaped the attention of major beverage manufacturers like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé. All have taken significant steps to strengthen their market share with new and enhanced products, though they are still playing catch-up to National Beverage Company, makers of La Croix. That brand is largely credited with triggering the country’s passion for flavored sparkling water – albeit with the help of scary scientific evidence of the dangers of drinking sugary soft drinks. Coca-Cola, for example, expanded beyond carbonated line extensions of smartwater and Dasani when it acquired Topo Chico, a Mexican sparkling mineral water brand whose U.S. presence is still limited but definitely growing.

Other Companies

Market Report Finds That Americans Want Functional Coffee

RTD coffee should be more than a caffeine-delivery vehicle, market researcher Mintel found in a survey of U.S. consumers, it should be functional, providing perhaps antioxidants, probiotics, and brain health benefits. The online survey questioned 613 U.S. Internet users aged 18 and older who drink any ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee products. Respondents said they want options that include antioxidants (47 percent), promote brain health (40 percent), are anti-inflammatory (35 percent), or have added probiotics (30 percent).The findings support the general trend that U.S. consumers want brands and products offering health and functional benefits.

Start-Up Launches Aronia Berry Beverages

Kansas City, Mo.-based Tohi Ventures has introduced four antioxidant-rich aronia berry beverages. Tohi – a Cherokee word meaning both “peace” and “wellness” – was founded by two female entrepreneurs with backgrounds in investment and science. The functional beverages are 30 percent single-strength aronia berry juice, 70 percent water, noncarbonated, low-calorie, and available in four flavors: original, blackberry raspberry, dragon fruit, and ginger lime. All are sweetened with monk fruit. The 12-ounce cans are available on Amazon.

Coca-Cola To Sue Norwegian Beverage Company Over “Sprite” Trademark

Coca-Cola is getting ready to sue O. Mathisen AS, a Norwegian producer of the soda "Jallasprite" over Coke’s Sprite trademark. The company has demanded that Mathisen remove all "Jallasprite" bottles from stores and destroy all labels and marketing materials. The battle has been ongoing since February, according to Coca-Cola. The CEO of O. Mathisen AS said the word "sprite" is not Coca-Cola's to own, but told Coke it was open to changing the name of Jallasprite as long as it could sell its stock of bottles labeled Jallasprite before any name change.

Czech Firm Isoline Debuts Functional Drink With Novel Three-Chambered Cap

Czech Republic beverage company Isoline has developed a functional drink that uses fruit and herbal extracts like schisandra, ginseng, matcha tea, ginkgo biloba and guarana, and is sweetened with stevia. A unique feature is the 3D SportTop cap composed of three chambers, each containing the drink concentrate. The cap makes it possible for buyers to obtain three drinks from one bottle. The company says Escalate’s ingredients fight fatigue, improve concentration, focus and memory, and support “regeneration after intense activity.” The beverage was developed with professional athletes and nutritional scientists from Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic.

Bubble Tea Chain Yifang Taiwan Expands To California

A Taiwan fruit tea chain that recently debuted in the U.S. has opened a fruit tea and boba (bubble tea) has opened a shop near the UC Berkeley campus. Called Yifang Taiwan Fruit Tea, the new shop joins others located in New York. The menu includes items like Sun Moon Lake Black Tea, Pouchong Green Tea, Lugu Oolong Tea and Roselle Lemonade. Each can be personalized with tapioca pearls, aiyu jelly and grass jelly, then adjust the sweetness to your palate. Caffeinated lattes and macchiatos are also available.

Sprig Adds Distributors Of Its CBD-Infused Sodas In Four States

California-based cannabidiol-infused beverage company Sprig has signed partnerships with local distributors in Florida, Illinois, New York, and Nevada. The company launched in 2014 with a line of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) soda products sold only in California-licensed marijuana dispensaries. To reach a wider audience, the company launched its non-psychoactive CBD line in July in Bristol Farms stores, convenience stores, and food service accounts in southern California. The Sprig CBD soda line features four flavors, including citrus original, citrus zero sugar, sparkling lemon tea zero sugar, and melon zero sugar. Each SKU contains 20 mg of CBD and retails for $3.99 per 12 oz. can.

Nestlé, Unilever, Coca-Cola On Shortlist In Bidding For GSK Consumer Portfolio

As negotiations for the Indian GlaxoSmith-Kline nutrition portfolio, including Horlicks, begin to heat up, Nestlé, Unilever and Coca-Cola are among companies shortlisted for a second round of bidding. Other food and drinks companies that have shown interest in the auction include PepsiCo, Reckitt Benckiser, General Mills, Danone, and Kellogg’s, as well as India’s ITC and private equity buyout funds like KKR. It’s not clear how many bidders are still in the running. 

British Firm Dry Drinks Launches Alcohol-Free “Drynks”

The Dry Drinks Company (U.K.) has come up with two alcohol-free “Drynks” for consumers who are cutting back on alcoholic beverages in favor of soft drinks. Smashed Hops (soft beer and smashed apple) and Soft Cider are both 0.05 percent ABV. The drinks are “de-alcoholized” using a low-temperature extraction process that retains flavor but removes alcohol. They were designed to challenge the soft drinks market by creating new “social drinking alternatives.”

Alove To Launch Drinkable Aloe Vera Yogurt In 2019

Aloe vera is an ingredient usually associated with skincare products and cosmetics but is appearing increasingly in foods and beverages in the U.S. One such beverage is Japanese-style yogurt brand Alove, which debuted last year on the West Coast in a traditional cup format, and is expanding eastward. That success, as well as the success of other aloe vera beverages, inspired the company to launch a drinkable version, which is set to launch in the U.S. in 2019. They will be sold in ready-to-drink 7 oz plastic bottles in original aloe vera, coconut, and strawberry banana flavors. As with the cup versions, the drinkables will launch first on the West Coast before gradually expanding across the U.S.

Mars, Inc., Sells Coffee-Related Businesses To Italian Coffee Company

Food and confectionery manufacturer Mars, Inc., has sold its Mars Drinks unit, including its office coffee machines and services and vending machine business, to Italian coffee company Lavazza in a deal reportedly worth around $650 million. Lavazza will acquire Mars’ coffee businesses in North America, Germany, the U.K., France, Canada and Japan, including its related systems and its production facilities in the U.K. and the U.S. The businesses reportedly posted sales of $315 million in 2017.
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