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Beverage Innovation

Tracking The Drinks Marketplace


Coca-Cola Unveils New Vending Machine Model

Universal Studios in Tokyo is seeing a new bottle-less vending machine from Coca-Cola. The trial will allow consumers to fill their own bottles with their choice of two sparkling waters, and a hot, cold and room-temperature still water. The vending machines can dispense reusable bottles and have a rinser. They have also been installed in the employee cafeterias of Tiger Corp, an insulated bottle maker. Coca-Cola expects to install some 500 machines in Japan by 2025. 

Fanta Goes Pink In 2022

The mystery bright blue Fanta variant introduced last year is being joined this year by a bright pink version, but the flavor has yet to be divulged. Consumers can scan QR codes on the pack to get online clues in action videos. The “WhatTheFanta” campaign will be supported by a multi-million-dollar marketing investment marketing, in the hope of replicating the success of the 2021 bright blue variant.

Coca-Cola Creations Supports Its Global Innovation Drive

Under the “Real Magic” platform, launched last year, Coca-Cola Creations is the company’s new global innovation solution, which will drive innovation through limited-edition releases, the first of which is Coca-Cola Starlight. Oana Vlad, Senior Director, Global Brand Strategy, said Creations “aims to surprise, delight and engage global audiences through magical and unexpected tastes, moments and collaborations”. Coca-Cola Starlight has a hint of red and a taste that is supposed to evoke watching the stars around a campfire, inspired by the partnership with NASA 35 years ago that saw Coca-Cola being one of the first drinks to travel in space. The digital-first marketing campaign for Starlight includes a partnership with Ava Max and an augmented reality concert experience. The products will be available from February 21 in North America and in certain other countries. Additional limited-edition products will be launched later this year.

Costa Coffee To See Post-Pandemic Expansion Push

Coca-Cola’s Costa Coffee brand has diversified, with RTD coffee and self-serve Costa Express machines, but the pandemic has delayed expansion plans, according to the recent earnings call for FY21. The brand was hit significantly by the virus, especially during the lockdowns, but stores have been recovering in recent months. Costa Coffee has launched at-home products in China and Costa RTD products are now in 300,000 outlets. Costa Express has also been a success, according to the business, with thousands of new machines installed last year. Coca-Cola said that Costa lost a couple of years, but the brand will bounce back.

Sandstar Helps Coca-Cola Launch New Smart Retail Lounge

Vending technology provider Sandstar has teamed up with Coca-Cola to develop an interactive digital shopping platform, aimed at collecting data on shoppers’ behaviors as they pass through the ‘store’.  The Coca-Cola Smart Lounge is recreational, a computer- powered vision technology and artificial intelligence, for a customized shopping experience. Each location will have a network of AI cameras that track shoppers’ routes, behavior and time spent, analyzed in real time, so that operators can optimize sales strategies.

Costa Coffee Brand Central To Coca-Cola’s Growth Plans In India

As well as its plans for the Costa Coffee business, which is to extend to new cities in India towards a national presence within three years, Coca-Cola India aims to grow its rural networks too. Although rural sales contribute almost 40 percent of sales for the company in India, it had focused more on urban demand during the pandemic. Coca-Cola President (India and Southwest Asia), Sanket Ray, says that Coca-Cola will add new brands to the market from its global portfolio at the right time and from the “right categories”. The company launched 'Zero Sugar' in India in December, but there will be local brands too: it is taking its sparkling Zeera flavor drink RimZim nationwide; and it will debut 'aam Panna' flavor from its Maaza mango-based drink. Other areas of interest include sports and “something in the mass-energy”. It is aiming for innovations to contribute 15-20 percent of growth. Other new products will include an apple sparkling drink from the Fanta brand. 

Some Coca-Cola Categories Return To Pre-Pandemic Levels

In 2021, some of Coca-Cola’s beverage categories out-performed 2019 global unit case volumes. The best-performing categories included Coca-Cola, sparkling soft drinks, sports drinks, juices, plant-based drinks, dairy and nutrition. Unit case volume was up 8 percent on 2020, and Q4 away-from-home volume was higher than the same period in 2019. Net operating revenues were 17 percent higher than 2020, boosted by 6 percent price/mix. Its innovation focus in 2021 was on “scalable bets”, and revenue per launch was up 30% on 2020. The company expects organic growth this year of 7-8 percent, but mid-single-digit commodity price inflation, which might be difficult to pass through to consumers as real incomes tighten. Coca-Cola expects the global economy to open, especially in Europe, as the Omicron variant passes through.

Coca-Cola Highlights New Billion Dollar Brand

Fairlife has become Coca-Cola’s latest brand to hit a billion dollars in annual retail sales. The brand, founded a decade ago, offers better-for-you dairy products, including ultra-filtered lactose-free milk and protein shakes. The company calls fairlife a nutrition brand, which played well to consumer preferences for high-quality nutrition during the pandemic. Sales were affected by global supply chain issues, and the company puts 2021 growth down to agility and making the “right decisions for the business”. 

New Marketing, Innovation Model Already Benefiting Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola’s new data-driven network marketing model, introduced at the end of 2021, is reportedly seeing results already. It is structured with global category teams and local operating units, and includes WPP as its global marketing network partner. The company also expects 2022 consumer-focused marketing expenditure to return to pre-pandemic levels but used more efficiently and supported by the ‘Real Magic’ brand platform launched last fall, which will focus on consumer experiences rather than broadcast communications. 

Keurig Dr Pepper

Berries & Cream: A Trip To The Past From Dr Pepper

Dr Pepper launched Berries & Cream in 2006 but withdrew it 18 months later. It is reappearing as a limited-edition, with a blend of blueberries, raspberries and vanilla flavors. For now, consumers have to win it to drink it, by joining the Pepper Perks rewards program and submitting a free entry.


Constellation And Monster Progress Merger Talks

A merger between Monster Beverage Corp. and Constellation Brands Inc. appears to be on the cards as reports suggest negotiations are progressing. The merged entity would have a market value of some $90 billion but shares in Monster have been falling as news emerged about discussions in November about a possible deal. Both companies remain tight-lipped. Analysts are dubious about the benefits for Monster, given that they operate in different segments, restricting cost synergies. Only last month, Monster announced the acquisition of Canarchy Craft Brewery LLC for $330 million, but the Constellation deal would be a much larger bet on alcoholic drinks. Constellation also holds an almost 40 percent stake in Canopy Growth Corp., which sells THC-infused drinks in Canada, which could be an issue for Coca-Cola’s near 20% stake in Monster. 


Nestlé Is Banking On Working From Home Trend For Its Coffee Portfolio

The company believes the transition to working from home will endure beyond the pandemic, and will buoy its coffee category, which was its main contributor to 2021 organic growth with strong momentum across Nescafé, Nespresso and Starbucks. Coffee grew 9.7% organically, with e-commerce an increasingly important channel. Mark Schneider, CEO, believes more flexible work patterns and remote working will see more coffee consumed at home, which will play “right into our retail strength”, even at the expense of some out-of-home sales. 

Other Companies

Botanical Sodas From Belvoir Farm Adds To The U.K. “No And Low” Market

Belvoir Farm’s Botanical Sodas in three variants - The Floral Fizz, Bitter Orange Spritz and Spicy Ginger Fizz – are standalone beverages and can be used as spirit mixers or ingredients in cocktails. Each contains fewer than 4.5 grams of sugar and under 20 calories per 100ml, and there are no preservatives, flavorings, artificial coloring or artificial sweeteners. The 500ml retro glass bottles will be in Sainsbury’s and Booths supermarkets from February 22, and online grocer Ocado will offer them from Easter. 

Barr Launches New Products And Ups Its Irn-Bru Advertising Game

Rubicon, the Barr Soft Drinks’ brand, is launching a pineapple flavor variant next month, in response to strong consumer testing results. It will come on 1 Liter plain packs and PMP, and 288ml plain packs.  Barr will also be introducing Rubicon Spring 330ml slim-can single and multi-pack variants. The company has also said it is spending £6 million for an advertising campaign supporting Irn-Bru across different media channels in March and April.

Japan’s Kirin Brand Exits China Soft Drinks JV

Kirin is to dispose of its 40 percent stake in its China soft drinks joint venture, China Resources Kirin Beverages, to Chinese investment fund Plateau Consumer for 115 billion yen (some $994 million).  The JV was established a decade ago and has been expanding its bottled water and bottled tea in China. Kirin’s decision is part of a review of its overall investment portfolio, which is focusing on areas that include pharmaceuticals, health science, and food and beverages. 

Drink Loud Cannabis Drink Goes To California

Cannabis beverage brand Drink Loud is taking its 1.8-ounce drink, with 100mg of THC, to California. Made and distributed by Rove Brands, Drink Loud is a shelf-stable, candy-flavored product in four tropical flavors: Chill | Kush Berry, Spark | Cucumber Haze, Maui Blast | Pina Colada and Cruise | Pink Lemonade. It can be sipped, added to a cocktail, taken as a shot, or stirred into a slushy. The products vegan, gluten-free, GMO-free and sweetened with sugar and xylitol. 

Winter Fancy Food Show Sees Squeezed Juice Debut

Trinity Fruit Company is launching a new juice line, Squeezed Juice, and is showcasing the range at the February 2022 Winter Fancy Food Show. It comes in two flavors, Mandarin and Pomegranate, and has no added water and is not from concentrate. Jeri Elsasser, the company’s Creative Director, said “we envision the Squeezed Juice premium juice line as an extension of the produce department with year-round availability.”

U.K. Brewer BrewDog Joins The Soft Drinks Category

An exclusive deal between the brewer and Tesco means P.O.P Soda is now in 700 Tesco stores in the U.K. P.O.P stands for Planet Over Profit, and all profits will support climate change initiatives. The products contain no artificial sweeteners and are plastic-free. Flavors include Citizen Cola, Jagged Grapefruit, Dark Cherry and Hazy Lemon. BrewDog is looking for high-impact projects to support that will “save our planet".

Applied Nutrition Launches Carni-Tone Sports Drink

Carni-Tone is a new L-Carnitine sports drink and Applied Nutrition’s first flavored spring water, as well as its first L-Carnitine ready-to-drink product. In addition to 1,500mg, the 500ml drink contains vitamins B3, B6 and B12 and is rich in minerals from the Northumbria Spring water on which it is based. L-Carnitine, an amino acid derivative, is thought to improve sports and muscle performance. The product is zero-calorie and zero-sugar, and is available in three flavors: raspberry and cherry, apple and blackcurrant and summer fruits. It can be purchased on the company’s website, from Amazon and will soon be sold in supplement stores and gyms in the UK and Europe.

Sports Nutrition Brand BioSteel Expands U.S. Distribution

BioSteel Sports Nutrition Inc. will soon be in 15,000 U.S. stores, with new distribution at the convenience-store chain Sheetz, Albertsons, Food Lion, Stop& Shop, Giant Food, Publix and Rite Aid. The products are zero sugar and contain essential electrolytes. They are available in 16.7-ounce single-serve Tetra Paks, and four-packs in some retailers. Flavors include Blue Raspberry, Mixed Berry, Peach Mango, Rainbow Twist and White Freeze. The brand was founded in 2009 and Canopy Growth acquired a majority stake in 2019.

ProSupps Unveils New Carbonated Energy Drink

Omni-channel sports nutrition brand ProSupps is launching HYDE Energy, a carbonated energy drink, extending the HYDE Franchise, which has been selling performance energy drinks for a decade. The new product contains nootropics and 300mg of ingredients to boost energy. Variants include Gamma Ray Grape, Blue Reactor and Lemon Voltage Lime. The drinks will hit the shelves in April.
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