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Beverage Innovation

Tracking The Drinks Marketplace


Orange Vanilla Flavor Joins Coca-Cola Portfolio

For the first time since 2007 – when Coca-Cola re-introduced Vanilla Coke – the company is launching a new flavor: Orange Vanilla (and Orange Vanilla Zero Sugar). In addition to the new flavor, the company is revamping the packaging for its other flavors, Cherry Coke and Vanilla Coke, along with their Zero Sugar variants. According to brand director Kate Carpenter, the company scoured its international markets for flavor ideas, and considered several options, including raspberry, lemon, and ginger. Orange Vanilla Coke was tested last summer in Canada and later in the U.S., where it was well received. The idea behind the new flavor is to encourage customers looking for more variety to stick with Coke rather than buy a different soda, Carpenter said. In related Coke flavor news: Coca-Cola Australia has launched a limited-edition flavor, Coca-Cola Peach No Sugar. It follows the earlier debut in the country of Coca-Cola Raspberry, Coca-Cola Plus Coffee No Sugar, and Coca-Cola Orange No Sugar.


Danone NA, Seeing A Major Opportunity In Plant-Based Foods, Expands Pa. Factory

Danone North America has enlarged its plant-based food factory in Dubois, Pa., to handle production of the Silk, So Delicious, and Vega dairy-free products. CEO Mariano Lozano said the plant expansion is a response to evolving and growing “flexitarian eating patterns” that increasingly include plant-based food options. Parent company Danone S.A. hopes to triple sales of plant-based products by 2025 to $5.6 billion. Flexitarians – people cutting down on animal protein or following a vegetarian diet but eat meat occasionally – account for one-third of the total population in the U.S., according to Danone NA. The total plant-based food category in retail is growing at 20 percent per year.

Danone Begins Using Smart Bottle Caps That Encourage Adequate Hydration

Danone has introduced a smart bottle cap technology – “Coach2O” – that monitors consumers’ water intake and coaches them “toward adequate hydration.” The widget clips onto an existing bottle cap without touching the water and records the amount of water imbibed. It also reminds users to drink water by “blinking.” An accompanying app allows consumers to set daily hydration goals that can be adjusted as necessary. The devices were developed in partnership with smart packaging company Water.io. Danone will begin incorporating the technology into its Spanish mineral water brand Font Vella.


British Pizza Shop Beats Monster Energy In Trademark Kerfuffle

A British pizza shop has once again beaten Monster Energy over a trademark dispute, this time in an appellate court, though it may turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory for the tiny firm. The U.S. energy drinks giant had appealed an August 2018 decision in favor of Monsta Pizza by the Intellectual Property Office; the appellate court has now rejected the appeal “in its entirety.” But co-founder Chris Dominey said the victory came with an onerous price tag. "The whole thing has cost us £11,000 ($14,160) in total,” he said, “and we could only claim £2,860 costs back," though “it does feel good to beat a 'big bully' so to speak.”

Other Companies

Vermont CBD Retailer Acquires Maple Water Maker Tretap

Vermont-based cannabidiol (CBD) retailer Ceres Natural Remedies has acquired maple water maker Tretap, marking the first beverage in its lineup. Ceres operates multiple retail locations in Vermont that sell oils and edibles, and is vertically integrated with medical cannabis cultivator and dispensary Southern Vermont Wellness. Ceres will launch a line of sparkling CBD-infused maple waters under the Tretap name. Company executives say the space for tree-sourced waters, such as maple or birch, is still nascent, but CBD is an extra selling point for many distributors and retailers. Many buyers have expressed interest in carrying Tretap’s original and CBD-infused products.

Celsius Adds More Wholesalers As It Continues Quest For National Distribution Network

Fitness drink maker Celsius Holdings (Boca Raton, Fla.), whose mission is to provide “clinically proven innovations which offer significant health benefits,” has inked distribution agreements with more partners in the Anheuser-Busch InBev network, and with wholesalers in the Keurig Dr Pepper and MillerCoors networks. The deals expand availability of Celsius beverages in new regions as the company builds a national distribution network. Expansion within the Anheuser-Busch wholesaler network includes Pepin Distributing, Hensley Beverage Company, and Tri-City Beverage, to the two current wholesalers. Expansion into the Keurig Dr Pepper network includes four wholesalers: Carolina Beverage, Piedmont Beverage, Quality Beverage, and Choice Beverage USA. The company also added wholesalers LDF Sales & Distribution and DET of the MillerCoors network, and independent wholesaler All Brands Distribution.

Zero-Calorie Flavors Added To MATI Product Line

Craft-brewed organic energy drink MATI Healthy Energy has debuted three new, zero-calorie flavors: raspberry mint, lemon ginger and grapefruit. They are the first zero-calorie options to join MATI’s line of sparking energy drinks. The beverages are made with an organic blend of fruit juices, natural flavors and craft-brewed guayusa, a naturally-caffeinated leaf with more antioxidants than green tea. The new zero-calorie offerings are available on Amazon and on MATI’s website, and will appear on store shelves in February. Current retailers in the Southeast U.S. include Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Earth Fare, Harris Teeter, and H-E-B.

Cott Sells Soft Drink Concentrate Business To Dutch Bottler Refresco

Canadian beverage company Cott Corporation has sold its Columbus, Ga.-based soft drink concentrate business, and the RCI International division, for $50 million in cash to Dutch bottler Refresco, which immediately sold the RCI unit to holding company RC Global Beverages Inc. of the British Virgin Islands. Refresco is an independent bottler of beverages for retailers and A-brands with production facilities in Europe and North America. Cott Beverages LLC generated approximately $80 million in sales during 2018, including concentrate production directly supporting Refresco's beverage manufacturing business. The transaction follows Refresco's acquisition of Cott's bottling business in January 2018.

CBD-Infused Sports Drinks Seen As Emerging Beverage Class

Cannabidiol (CBD) – a non-psychoactive cannabis compound – has become the functional ingredient du jour as new CBD-infused beverages, including kombuchas, seltzers, and elixirs, are launching with increasing frequency since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp. A major beverage category facing CBD disruption is sports drinks, as new CBD brands claim to deliver a range of physical and mental benefits to athletes, both amateurs and pros. Several athletes-turned-entrepreneurs are getting into the game: former NFL player Terrell Davis will launch Defy, a CBD-infused sports drink launching in three flavors this spring; and Jim Bailey, a bike rider injured in a collision with a car, will debut OKI, an active hemp extract water, fruit water, and iced tea brand. Analysts at market research group Canaccord Genuity expect the CBD-infused beverage market to reach $260 million by 2022.

Chinese Food Company Introduces Two Non-Dairy Beverages In Ecolean Packaging

A new player has entered China’s beverage market with two RTD non-dairy drinks: ginger tea and plum juice. Food company Shou Quan Zhai (SQZ) will make the beverages available in 200 ml Ecolean air aseptic packages on its online store, and in e-commerce channels and retail outlets across China. They are the first in a planned line of traditional Chinese beverages, including herbals. Ecolean packaging is known for low impact on the environment, light weight – half the weight of traditional packaging formats – and chalk content (up to 35 percent). The packaging saves energy during production, transport and waste handling, can be used in the microwave, are easy to open and pour, and stand upright. The new RTD beverages from SQZ are the first non-dairy beverages in Ecolean packages in the Chinese market.

Niagara Bottling Continues Expansion With New $90M Bottling Plant

Ontario, Calif.-based bottled water producer Niagara Bottling announced that construction of a $90 million, 450,000-square-foot bottling plant will begin next month in Temple, Texas. The new plant, expected to go online by the end of 2019, will create 70 new jobs in two phases. In 2017, the family-owned company invested $76 million in a new production facility in Mesa, Arizona, and acquired a manufacturing site in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, as part of its acquisition of First Quality’s bottled water business. Niagara does not use BPA in any of its products; all bottles and caps produced by the company are 100 percent recyclable.

“Added Benefits” Available In New Drinks From Rejuvenation Water

British water brand Rejuvenation Water, known since its launch in 2016 for amino acid-rich drinks, will launch three “plant-based protein, amino acid and electrolytes-enriched” sparkling waters into Costco stores in April. Available in 250-ml cans at about $1.79 each, the new products will come in three flavors:  cherry-cranberry, tropical, and lime-lemon flavors. The brand is positioning the new products as a “great tasting adult soft drink with added health benefits,” whether consumed on its own, or as an alternative to mixers in cocktails or mocktails.
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