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Beverage Innovation

Tracking The Drinks Marketplace


Arbitrators Settle Energy Drink Noncompete Clash In Favor Of Coca-Cola

An independent arbitration panel has settled a dispute that began when energy drinks company Monster Beverage accused Coca-Cola of violating a clause in a 2015 contract in which Coke agreed not to compete in the energy drink category with certain exceptions. The American Arbitration Association tribunal ruled that the contract, under which Coke acquired 16.7 percent of Monster for $2.15 billion, did not bar Coca-Cola from selling energy drinks. The arbitrators ruled that Coca-Cola Energy products fall within an exception to the non-compete provision, and Coca-Cola may continue to sell Coca-Cola Energy in markets where it has been launched and in additional markets globally. In a statement, the companies said “the dispute was resolved amicably” and they “value their relationship and look forward to their continued partnership.”

Other Companies

Beverage Companies Benefit From The “Upcycling” Trend

Beverage manufacturers have joined other food product developers in finding new uses for “spent” by-products from the making of beer, wine, processed legumes and vegetables, and even yogurt and cheese. “Upcycling” has grown in popularity because it is not only potentially profitable, it provides nutritional benefits while reducing food waste. Mass.-based Superfrau, for example, sources leftover whey from yogurt and cheese production to create ready-to-drink beverages in flavors such as cucumber lime, peach mango and lemon elderflower. Leftover whey is also a key ingredient in RTD beverages from California start-up Render Foods, which produces Weyla, a sparkling fruity beverage blended with fruit, herbs, and botanicals. Varieties include blueberry juniper orange, strawberry fennel tarragon and cranberry ginger hibiscus. Render also sells a savory vegetable drink formulated with pickle brine from a local specialty pickle company. Bryner’s flavors include beet horseradish, smoky tomato chipotle, and carrot aji pepper.

Polar Seltzer Sales Gaining On Ailing Market Leader LaCroix

The Wall Street Journal reports that Polar Seltzer has jumped to the No. 2 spot on the list of bestselling sparkling waters in the U.S. that is topped by LaCroix. Worcester, Mass.-based Polar sold $173 million in seltzer over the past two years; in the same period LaCroix sold $478 million. National Beverage Corp., which makes LaCroix, recently reported a second straight year-over-year quarterly sales decline, following five years of steady growth. Consumers reportedly have switched from LaCroix because they found cheaper alternatives that taste better and have ingredients with which they feel more comfortable. A class-action lawsuit filed against National Beverage last fall alleges that its “all-natural” product claims were false and LaCroix contains synthetic ingredients.

Sonic Adds “Mocktail” Slushes To Menu

Oklahoma City-based drive-in fast-food chain Sonic is adding cocktail-flavored drinks – dubbed “mocktail” slushes – to its menu in a nod to the emerging taste preferences of Gen Z-ers and Millennials.  The new  slushes will be available in strawberry daiquiri, pina colada, and reaper hot pepper margarita flavors. The reaper spicy margarita blends classic margarita flavor with the flavor of one of the hottest chili peppers in the world, the Carolina Reaper. According to industry observers, young adults are increasingly seeking out non-alcoholic beverages that taste nearly the same as well-known alcoholic drinks. 

Company’s Nanotechnology Speeds Absorption, Activation Of CBD Compounds

California-based food and beverage technology firm Infused By Epic is launching a water soluble nanotechnology ingredient  in both liquid and powder form that delivers five times greater absorption of CBD compounds and faster onset of “relief” at around 10 minutes. The company is specializing in targeted delivery of CBD and other phytocannabinoids to make it easy for manufacturers to reformulate current products with nano-CBD ingredients or create new ones. Mixed into any food or beverage, the ingredient delivers higher bioavailability and faster onset, which are important for the mitigation of pain, anxiety, and sleeplessness, according to the company. The average bioavailability of conventional oil-based CBD is around 5-35 percent, due to complex digestion factors. 

Better Than Milk Expands Portfolio Of Organic Plant-Based Milk Alternatives

Better Than Milk, a maker of rice- and soy-based milk alternative powders, is modernizing the brand with new packaging and an RTD line in five variants. Set to roll out nationwide in the fall, the organic alternative milk beverages will include oat, almond original, almond unsweetened, rice with calcium, and rice with hazelnut varieties. All are organic, vegan, certified gluten free, non-GMO verified and free from dairy, lactose, soy, sulfites, carrageenan, cholesterol, and anything artificial. The spring water used to make the beverages is sourced from a spring 450 meters above sea level in the Lessini Mountains of Northern Italy, where they are manufactured. The line is packaged in fully recyclable 33.8 oz Tetra Pak slim cartons. The company says it will be adding more varieties and flavors, and is watching the market for new trends as well as potential nut and grain bases.

Tea Business Supports A Nonprofit’s Work With Displaced Rwandan Coffee Farmers

The founder of craft tea brand 3 Mountains created both a nonprofit organization and the tea business while working in Rwanda with survivors of the brutal genocide campaigns of the Rwandan civil war. Showcased at the recent Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City, 3 Mountains’ Silverback Draft tea is a premium beverage available in kegs and cans. The tea business is helping to support Sara Stender’s nonprofit work, which funds entrepreneurship training for Rwandan women who previously worked in the unstable coffee industry. The 3 Mountains team is also building an herbal tea farm in the country where the workers can have a regular income from the year-round cultivation and harvesting of tea. Silverback teas are available in classic silver and harvest gold variants.

California Start-Up Debuts Teas Made From Avocado Leaves

In yet another, and fairly unusual, example of “upcycling,” two California avocado farmers have figured out a potentially profitable use for the otherwise useless and discarded leaves of their 600 avocado trees. Sharon When Colona and Scott Wibbenmeyer bought a home in Temecula to be near their son, they also bought the grove of trees on the land. Central American and Mexican households have brewed tea from the leaves for centuries, but the tea hasn’t been a commercialized product until now. The two found that there could be a market for avocado tea, which is rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, polyphenols, and terpenes, and may actually raise serotonin levels. Some experimentation in formulas led to the creation of Avocado Leaf Tea – available in natural, black, chamomile, lemon and peach. The company officially launched on Amazon and on its website in May.

Coke-Backed Start-Up Iris Nova Implements Expansion Plan

A Coca-Cola-funded start-up plans to spend $100 million over the next three years on an expansion strategy that encompasses in-house launches and acquisitions of companies that are shifting away from “high calorie, high sugar beverages.” Iris Nova, the company that makes Dirty Lemon beverages, sees the expansion plan as “the way for us to compete with the bigger beverage companies,” says CEO Zak Normandin. The company will start adding new beverages to the platform on July 1, with an overall goal of debuting 12 brands by the end of the year. Normandin says he’s not sure what the internal-external mix will be, but the company has already made two external investments.  Meanwhile, it has a few beverage brands of its own on the launchpad, including the Tres Limón line of nonalcoholic apéritifs.

Coffee Sodas: Canned (Or Bottled), Bubbly, and Charged With Caffeine

Brewers of canned coffee drinks have livened up the once-staid market by aerating and flavoring their concoctions that are suited more for an afternoon caffeine boost than a first cup of morning joe. According to industry observers, though consumers shunned sugary drinks, they still wanted bubbles, flavors and, if possible, a shot of caffeine. The coffee soda was born. Companies offering versions of coffee sodas include: Matchless, with a lightly sweetened citrusy canned coffee soda; Cafello, which makes its bottled coffee soda with espresso; SunUp (an antioxidant-rich green coffee); Trader Joe’s (canned coconut cream cold brew); Loco Coffee Co.(cold brew and maple water); Vivic (sparkling coffee with licorice, lavender, or sarsaparilla); Rise Brewing Co. (half-lemonade/half-coffee); and Upruit (coffee flavored with tangerine and Himalayan salt, and Montmorency cherry).


ThaiBev Acquires Chinese Coffee Processor Dongguan LiTeng Foods

Singapore-listed Thai Beverage (ThaiBev) has acquired, through its indirect subsidiary Asiaeuro International Beverage (Guangdong), a 100 percent stake in Mainland China coffee processing and trading company Dongguan LiTeng Foods. The $43,571 acquisition marks the company’s first step into China’s coffee business. ThaiBev currently owns only one distillery in China producing Yulinquan Chinese spirits. In Thailand, the company has 173 subsidiaries, including 18 distilleries, 3 breweries and 11 non-alcoholic beverage production facilities. ThaiBev has also recently acquired equity positions in Myanmar whisky maker Grand Royal Group (GRG) and in Vietnamese food and beverage giant Sabeco.
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