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Beverage Innovation

Tracking The Drinks Marketplace


Fanta Adds Grape Flavor To U.K. Portfolio

Claiming a “huge demand” for the soda flavor grape on social media, Coca-Cola brand Fanta Zero is adding the flavor to its U.K. lineup beginning in March. The flavor will be sold in 500 ml (16.9 ounce) bottles and 330 ml cans, as well as a 4x330 ml multi-pack and two-liter bottle. Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) will spend $6.5 million marketing the new flavor in social media, digital and out-of-home activations, and a nationwide sampling campaign. Fanta Zero debuted limited-edition Blood Orange and Pink Grapefruit variants in 2018. In other CCEP flavor news: the company is adding a cherry flavor to the Capri-Sun portfolio beginning in mid-March in a 330 ml re-sealable pouch featuring a new safety cap; and is expanding its light colas range with Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Raspberry and Diet Coke Twisted Strawberry in 500 ml bottles and 330 ml cans, backed by a $9 million marketing campaign.

Coke CEO Quincey Says His Optimism Has A Solid Foundation

In a recent interview with CNBC, Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey expressed optimism about the financial outlook for 2019, despite some market softness around the globe and the prospect of foreign exchange headwinds. Noting that there’ll always  be “good years and bad years,” he said the company has some foundational strongpoints: “good brands, good marketing, good innovation and our bottling system is executing." Countries that “stumbled a little” in 2018 included Argentina, Turkey, the Middle East, and Europe, but they’re turning around, and China will do well – despite U.S.-China trade tensions – because 95 percent of the beverages the company sells there are made there. Quincey said a major trend in the global beverage industry is personalization, which feeds into the development of new flavor offerings. So, the company will focus on innovation – “not just around new brands and new products but also on new flavors” and on eliminating drinks that just aren’t working.

Coke’s 2018 Financials Startle Investors, But Execs Will Stay The Course

Coca-Cola met Wall Street expectations in its recent financial report, posting a 2018 net income of $6.4 billion, or $1.51 a share, up from $1.2 billion ($0.29 a share) the previous year, despite a 10 percent drop in net operating revenues to $31.9 billion. Organic revenues grew 5 percent and operating income increased 14 percent to $8.7 billion. Nevertheless, news of fourth quarter sales declines sent the company’s stock price downward – by nearly seven percent – on February 14. The company noted that higher prices imposed in the summer of 2018 eventually had their impact: in the fourth quarter in North America, unit case volume slid one percent for sparkling soft drinks, offsetting high single-digit growth in Coke Zero Sugar and healthy sales of Sprite. Company executives said the price increases reflect the company’s new emphasis on value over volume, but CEO James Quincey said volume is nevertheless starting to pick up since the fourth quarter: “We are confident we have the right strategy for North America and that we will see the benefits of that strategy flowing more simply and more clearly through to the results in 2019.” Quincey acknowledged the company faces “headwinds” unrelated to products or marketing, notably foreign exchange issues. For 2019, the company has forecasted four percent growth in organic revenues.


Fanta To Launch New 4U Brand Into Brazil’s Juice, Tea Markets

Danone Waters Brazil has partnered with Crown Holdings, Inc. to launch its newest brand, 4U by Danone in Brazil’s juice and tea markets in November. The 4U line features two carbonated juices and two flavored teas, all made with 100 percent natural ingredients. Two different sizes of slimline cans from Crown, along with special ink finishes and colorful imagery, offer vibrant, eye-catching package designs that reflect the healthy, fresh blends of the 4U beverages. Danone’s carbonated juice, developed under the sub-brand True 4U, is available in white grape and citrus in 269 ml (9.1 ounce) slimline cans. The sub-brand Tea 4U comes in two flavors: black tea-hibiscus, and berry and lemon grass and citrus, and is available in 310 ml (10.5 ounce) slimline cans. Danone says it chose the slimline can for its durability, recyclability and decorative options.

Danone Brand Volvic To Launch Rhubarb-Flavored Sugar-Free Water

Volvic, a French mineral water brand owned by Groupe Danone, will add a special edition rhubarb flavor to its Touch of Fruit Sugar Free range in the U.K. beginning in March. The variant will be available in a 750 ml bottle (retailing at $1.5) and a 1.5-litre bottle retailing at $1.31. The launch will be supported by a 360-marketing activation campaign beginning in May; the company will spend about $2.7 million across the entire Touch of Fruit portfolio. According to Volvic, the flavor is on trend after “top British supermarkets” reported a 350 percent increase in people searching online for rhubarb products in 2018.

Financial Performance Of Waters, Nutrition Products Give Danone A Shot In The Arm In 2018

Specialized nutrition products, waters, and plant-based brands from WhiteWave helped Danone post a 2.9 percent increase in like-for-like sales in 2018. Full-year sales were $28 billion; operating income slid 26.5 percent to $3.1 billion. Within its waters division, like-for-like sales were up 5.3 percent. In North America, while Evian sales rose more than 20 percent, thanks in part to first acceleration benefits of the distribution agreement recently signed with Keurig Dr Pepper in the U.S. Like-for-like sales in the specialized nutrition unit rose 5.9 percent. However, in the fourth quarter, the company was hit by lower demand in China for infant formula products. And since April 2018, Danone has faced a consumer boycott in Morocco, which resulted in a $49 million drop in recurring operating income last year.


Ultra Blue Is Newest Variant In Monster Energy’s Low-Calorie, Fruit-Flavored Range

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) is adding a sparkling, citrus and berry, low-calorie variant – Ultra Blue – to its popular Monster Energy Ultra range in the U.K. at the end of March. The company says the new variant will help retailers to benefit from the growing demand for low-calorie, flavored energy drinks, the fastest growing segment in energy. According to market researchers, Monster Energy is contributing 88.1 percent value sales to the flavored low-calorie energy segment. The Ultra range is valued at $65 million, having grown by $21 million in the past year. Ultra Blue will be soft drinks tax-exempt, available in 500 ml cans, and in a plain and price-marked-packs. Then launch will be supported by POS material and off fixture display to help increase visibility in-store and drive retail sales. In related news: CCEP in March will launch a ready-to-drink coffee duo targeting coffee and energy drink fans. Espresso Monster will be available in the U.K. in espresso & milk and vanilla espresso flavors, in 250 ml cans. The $2.60 beverage is a blend of brewed coffee and Monster energy.


Nestlé Cites “Inefficiencies” In Closing Scorned Water Bottling Plant

After just seven months of operation, Nestlé has closed a controversial water-bottling plant in Phoenix, Arizona, that was supposed to draw 35 million gallons a year – roughly 0.035 percent of the city’s total water usage – for the Nestlé Pure Life bottled water line, the largest in the world. Arizona continues to struggle with draught. The announcement of the bottling plant in 2016 drew heated criticism. More than 48,000 people signed a 2016 petition protesting the planned plant, though Nestlé moved ahead. In a statement about the closing, Nestlé cited the need to “drive out inefficiencies and manage our costs” to “position the company for long-term success,” but did not elaborate. Fifteen employees were laid off as a result of the closing. The Nestlé plant manager said the affected workers would be kept on payroll, and be provided separation packages and other benefits.

Partnership With Starbucks Begins To Bear Fruit: Nestlé Launches 24 Home Coffee Products

Nestlé is debuting 24 new home coffee products globally under the Starbucks brand. The line will include whole bean and roast and ground products, as well as new Starbucks capsules developed using Nespresso and Nescafé Dolce Gusto coffee and technologies. The company is beginning to roll out the products in several markets across Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and the U.S. The range includes several Starbucks blends and single-origin coffees, as well as some classic beverages such as Caramel Macchiato and Cappuccino, all made from arabica coffee ethically sourced from farmers in the world’s premier coffee-growing regions.

Other Companies

S.Pellegrino Begins National Expansion Of Essenza Sparkling Fruit-Flavored Mineral Waters

It took more than a century, but S.Pellegrino has introduced new variants  of its iconic mineral water: Mediterranean fruit-flavored sparkling versions in lemon & lemon zest, dark morello cherry & pomegranate, and tangerine & wild strawberry. The “Essenza” collection of zero-calorie, zero-carb beverages is available at Walmart for $21 a case of 24 11.5-ounce slimline cans or online through Amazon Prime for the same price. The line has been softly rolling out since August, and is now undergoing national expansion.

Szent Attracts Further Investment, Plans Sparkling Line, National Retail Rollout

Four-month-old Los Angeles-based bottled water company Szent has closed a $2.2 million round of financing, following a $1.5 million seed financing from a syndicate of investors, led by former FirstMark Capital co-chairman Gerald Poch. Bottled by Unix Packaging in Los Angeles, Szent uses a reverse osmosis purification process, packaging its water using a scent ring in the bottle neck infused with all-natural oils that channels the flavor through the sense of smell, avoiding the use of sweeteners or additives. The brand's core still flavors include passionfruit, tangerine, tropical, pineapple, and mint. Plans are underway to debut a sparkling line later this year. Available only on Amazon, Szent’s products will eventually launch in the retail channel nationally in individual bottles priced at $2.25 each.

Darigold’s Ultra-Filtered High-Protein Milk Now Available

Seattle-based farmer-owned co-op Darigold is expanding its portfolio of milk products in the U.S. to include FIT, an ultra-filtered, lactose free, high-protein milk. The co-op uses an ultra-filtration process that naturally concentrates protein and removes sugars. FIT has 75 percent more protein and 40 percent less sugar than regular two percent milk, Daraigold says. The new product is being sold in 59-oz. cartons with a suggested retail price of $3.99, and in 14-oz. bottles at $1.99 each. Darigold is also offering FIT Chocolate, with more protein, less sugar and fewer ingredients than its competitors. In addition to FIT, Darigold produces milk, butter, cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, whipping cream, half & half creamer, lactose-free milk and RE:FUEL, a protein recovery shake. More than 40 percent of Darigold milk is exported overseas; the company hopes to reach 50 percent as global expansion continues.

Califia Farms Launches High-Protein Oat Milk Drinks: Übermilk

Plant-based beverage company Califia Farms (Los Angeles) is launching a line of oat milk drinks containing eight grams of plant-based protein per serving, plus all eight amino acids and omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids from plant oils (pea, oats and sunflower seeds). Übermilk also contains calcium, iron, vitamin D, potassium, and vitamin E. The new Übermilks join the company’s line of plant-based milks, including almond, coconut, cashew and oat. Übermilk will be available this spring at Whole Foods Market stores nationwide with additional distribution throughout the year. Übermilk will also be available on CalifiaFarms.com, In May, the company will also roll out refreshed Nitro Draft Latte packaging with a new twistable, re-sealable cap. The Nitro Draft Latte Cold Brews are available in three flavors – Latte, Mocha and New Orleans – made with almond and macadamia milks blended with cold brew made from direct-trade beans and an infusion of nitrogen.
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