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Beverage Innovation

Tracking The Drinks Marketplace


So Far So Good, Says Coca-Cola HBC Of New Order Picking Technology

Switzerland-based Coca-Cola Hellenic, the third largest Coke bottler in the world, recently implemented Ubimax’s  xPick “pick-by-vision“ order picking solution at its Thessaloniki (Greece) distribution center. The xPick system allows for hands-free, high-speed order picking while at the same time reducing errors. Twelve pickers at the facility collect multi-product orders, including crates, shrink-foiled bottle packs, and cans and pack them onto pallets for the delivery trucks. Although the company says it’s too early to calculate consolidated benefits after only a month, the system recorded a picking accuracy increase of 99,99 percent and a picking performance increase in the range of six to eight percent. Coca-Cola HBC says customer satisfaction has improved while CAPEX savings have been in the double digits compared to former scanner technology. The company plans to deploy the technology at two further sites soon, with another five sites planned for later this year.

New Venturing & Emerging Brands Chief Named At CCNA

Coca-Cola has named a new president and general manager for its Venturing & Emerging Brands (VEB) division, effective August 5. Reebok senior marketing executive Melanie Boulden is tasked with speeding up ”VEB’s important work as Coca-Cola North America’s (CCNA) futurist group.” The division mission is to invest in entrepreneurs and companies, new products and technologies. Boulden, a former senior marketing executive at Reebok, will report directly to CCNA President Jim Dinkins. Boulden has worked at Kraft Foods, Crayola, and Henkel Consumer Goods. She succeeds Scott Uzzell, who left to join Reebok competitor Converse in December.

Coca-Cola Launches Low-Calorie Honest Iced Tea In Italy

Coca-Cola Italia has launched an organic iced tea under the Honest brand, founded in 1998 to provide consumers a simple beverage low in calories and not too sweet. The tea is available in lemon and orange blossom, and raspberry and basil, flavors in 330 ml glass bottles. According to Giuliano Mantovano, marketing director of Coca-Cola Italia, the company is committed to expanding its range of low-calorie products and limiting the amount of sugar in beverages. Honest teas contain 18 calories per 100 ml and 4.5 grams of sugar per 100 ml. A survey conducted by Nielsen and MediaCom for Coca-Cola Italia found that the consumption of organic drinks in Italy increased by 89 percent in the past year.


Danone Ups Its Stake In Chinese-Owned N.Z. Dairy Farm

New Zealand's Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has authorized Danone (Paris, France) to purchase up to 49 percent of Yashili New Zealand Dairy Co. (Pokeno, N.Z.). When added to its existing stake, the purchase through its Danone Asia Pacific unit means the company would control 65 percent of the dairy processor. Hong Kong-listed infant-formula business Yashili International Holdings has been a supplier of base powder products and dairy ingredients to Danone since 2016 through its subsidiary Yashili New Zealand. Last December, the companies said the stake would cost Danone about $103.2 million at the then-current exchange rate. An investment subsidiary of Yashili would hold the rest. China Mengniu Dairy, of which Danone is a shareholder, owns just over 51 percent of Yashili International Holdings. Yashili NZ's dairy factory can produce 52,000 tons of infant formula a year.

Keurig Dr Pepper

Suit Alleges High Arsenic Toxicity In KDP’s Peñafiel Water Brand

A complaint filed by John Pels on June 3 in California federal court accuses Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP) of willfully ignoring repeated warnings over a period of years that its imported Peñafiel Mineral Spring Water products include dangerous levels of arsenic. The complaint alleges KDP declined to issue a voluntary recall or otherwise address arsenic contamination in its Peñafiel products, despite first being made aware of the issue by the FDA in 2013. KDP was cited by the FDA in its “import alerts” a further two times. A Consumer Reports article on bottled water products published in April found that of 130 brands tested, Peñafiel exhibited the highest toxicity – 70 percent above the legal standard. The complaint seeks an injunction and declaration against KDP that it participated in illegal actions, as well as attorney fees.


Monster Intrigued By Potential Of Alcoholic And Pot-Based Beverages

Monster Beverage Corp. CEO Rodney Sacks told investors earlier this month that the company could move into alcoholic beverages, including hard seltzers; nonalcoholic drinks; and possibly cannabis beverages. Sacks said the company has “an appetite to look at alternative brands and to develop more beverages in the nonalcoholic ... as well as the alcoholic market.” At the top of the wish list is alcoholic beverages because they wouldn't be covered by a noncompete clause with investor Coca Cola that expires next year. Company officials said they might explore cannabis beverages if they become federally legal in the U.S. Coca-Cola owns an 18.5- percent stake in Monster and distributes the beverage.


Nestlé Waters Partnership Will Begin Distribution Of Nestea In Germany, Austria

Nestlé Waters and Hamburg, Germany-based Columbus Drinks, a premium beverage marketing company, have partnered to begin distribution of the Nestea brand in Germany and Austria beginning next month. New 0.5 liter and 1.5 liter PET bottles of Nestea will revert to an old design that features the blue logo. The German iced tea market increased by 7.1 percent in 2018 and is now worth around $728 million.

Other Companies

RAIN RTD Brewing Technology Extends Shelf Life Of Beverages To As Long As Four Months

New RTD brewing technology from N.J.-based BKON is extending product drinkability through its patented RAIN (Reverse Atmospheric Infusion) technology, which can extend the shelf life of packaged drinks to four months, and keep them drinkable even longer. The company is focusing on canned cold brew as its first project, but believes RAIN can be applied across a wider packaging spectrum. The platform is suitable for beverages and formats like coffee, tea, enhanced water and cocktails made with any botanical, fruit, or solvent. BKON says a new study in May conducted with a third-party lab proves its RAIN technology “both increases the freshness of packaged cold brew from 1-2 days to at least 120 days, and extends the life of the beverage for months further.”

Red Bull Unveils “Surprisingly Thoughtful” Soft Drinks In Four Flavors

Red Bull has introduced a line of organic soft drinks that do not make energy claims. Available in four flavors – cola, bitter lemon soda, tonic water, and ginger ale – the drinks tout flavor without additives like artificial colors, preservatives, or GMO. The sugar used is derived from organically farmed sugar beets, while there is nothing mysterious about the other ingredients (i.e., lemon juice, water sourced from the Alps, and ginger). According to Thrillist writer Kat Thompson, the beverages are “surprisingly thoughtful sodas that taste distinct and bright.” They cost the same as Red Bull energy drinks – $2.39 for a single can and $8.19 for a four pack. 

Jamba Drops Juice From Its Name To Emphasize Broader Menu

Nearly a year after Jamba Juice was acquired by Atlanta-based Focus Brands Inc., the company has dropped the word Juice from its name and is implementing menu and image changes that expand its perception among customers. The company now emphasizes, besides juice and smoothies, bowls packed with fruit and granola. The new menu highlights on-trend ingredients like matcha, acai and spirulina, e.g., its vanilla blue sky spirulina smoothie and bowl. To make ordering easier, the brand is rolling out a speedy cloud-based point-of-sale system along with a new smartphone app and partnerships with third-party delivery services. A new logo is lighter in color and has a more natural feel compared to the neon look of the past, according to company execs.

Functional Beverage Company &M Has Ambitious Expansion Plans Beyond India

Indian functional beverage brand &Me (Bangalore), founded in 2017, has its sights set on the women of South East Asia with three types of functional beverage products: PCOS (to support healthy hormonal balance in women with polycystic ovary syndrome); PMS (to support metabolism and healthy muscle and nerve function during periods); and beauty (to support hair and skin health). The products are made from a mix of fruits, vegetables, spices and ayurvedic herbs, combined with vitamins and minerals. The 240 ml flasks – flavors include orange, mango, watermelon, cranberry and green apple – are available online, and in 500 retail supermarkets and health food stores in Mumbai and Bangalore. The company’s expansion plans include South East Asian countries such as Singapore and Indonesia. It is also planning clinical trials on its ingredients and formulation within the next six months.

ITC Unveils Several Flavor Variants In New Sunfeast Wonderz RTD Milk Line

India’s ITC Limited, which launched the RTD milk-based beverage line Sunfeast Wonderz last year, has introduced four flavor variants: Fruit ‘n’ Milk in mango and mixed fruit), Shakes, and NutShakes. The Fruit n Milk variants are made with fruit pulp, while the Shakes variant, available in Classic Vanilla flavor, is made with natural vanilla extracts. The NutShakes variant, available in Kesar Badam flavor, contains almond bits. The products will be available at general trade and modern trade outlets in the five southern Indian states, i.e., Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana. The Fruit ‘n’ Milk variants are available in 200ml bottles at $0.36, Shakes in 200ml bottles at $0.43, and the NutShakes in 200 ml bottles at $0.50.

Gaming Hardware Company Razer Launches Mental Performance Drinks

High-performance gaming hardware and software company Razer has launched a line of caffeine-packed beverage powders – dubbed Respawn – that mix with water to produce mental performance drinks in four flavors: pomegranate watermelon, green apple, blue raspberry, and tropical pineapple. In 2010 the company announced a gaming-enhancing intravenous liquid called Venom that proved to be an April Fools' joke. But a surge in interest in real mental-enhancement beverages convinced Razer to test the new drinks, which contain 95 g of caffeine (from green tea extract), ginger, B vitamins, and choline, but no sugar or taurine, Razer says the powders mixed with water taste like a liquefied Jolly Rancher. Respawn is sold in boxes of 20 sticks for $24.99 online, including on Amazon.
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