Beverages: Absolutely FABulous
Carbonation NationTraditional carbonated drinks increasingly are incorporating a second flavor. Mountain Dew now features a Code Red variety, as the Pepsi product adds a rush of cherry flavor. Not content to change one of its staples, Pepsi Twist is the company's effort to add lemon to its original flavor. The lemon-boosted line is available in both regular and diet versions.
Not to be outdone, Coca-Cola added a lemon-flavored version of its classic Diet Coke, and little-known Havana Cola, Winter Park, Fla., debuted a lemon-flavored cola in regular and diet versions, which it promises is more refreshing than traditional colas.
While common tastes such as lemon-lime, cherry, orange, apple and grapefruit made their way into carbonated sodas, other flavors found similar applications, including elderflower, seaweed, banana and marzipan. With consumers facing a growing diversity of flavors and tastes, the trend appears to be heading away from lemon-lime and cola variants to a more diverse assortment.
For example, Goya Foods, Secaucus, N.J., launched 12 new Refresco Goya Fruit Sodas in a wide variety of flavors. The line included apple, cola champagne, fruit punch, guarana, guava, ginger beer, grape, lemon lime, mandarin orange, pineapple, strawberry and tamarind.
Speaking of flavor, Chili Pop's, New York, Loco sodas boasted its fare share, a result of incorporating brewed chili peppers. These sodas “with a hot streak” feature flavors such as blackberry, watermelon, raspberry and mango.
Few functional and healthy products made their way into the carbonated beverage arena; however, vitamin and mineral fortification is expected to play a bigger role for manufacturers, particularly as an aging population seeks to meet its health needs with traditional favorites.
Similarly, look for manufacturers to continue efforts to expand flavor offerings beyond the lemon-lime varieties that are fairly common.
Providing a BoostAs consumers seek an energetic pick-me-up, major beverage manufacturers look to comply and gain a share of the growing energy drink market. One of the best recent examples has been Pepsi's acquisition of South Beach Beverage, which gave the cola giant a firm footing in this growing area.
Consumers are increasingly likely to experiment with products that appear to offer a degree of functionality or health benefits not traditionally associated with carbonated beverages. While energy drinks' new product activity slowed a bit in the past year, consumers continue to flock to these offerings, particularly ready-to-drink products, which serve two trends—functionality and convenience.
These products target a particular group or a specific use—prior to or after activity. Post-workout, for example, is the time for Worldwide Sport Nutrition's, Largo, Fla., Bio-Engineered Rapid Recovery Post Workout Drink. This grape-flavored sports drink is said to restore quickly muscle fiber and substrate.
Though demand for functional products increased, taste and flavor continued to be a prime consideration for consumers. However, other weighty issues also came to the fore. Some sports drinks served the needs of those weight-conscious consumers. One such example was Worldwide Sport Nutrition's Bio-Engineered Isotonic Beverage, a sugar-free option.
One of the year's more interesting ingredient applications in a sports drink had to be Renaissance Man's, Germantown, Tenn., Aloe Lu-Ya Sports Beverage. Its aloe vera gel promised a quick post-workout recovery for athletes and, in general, to reduce swelling in joints.
While sports drinks primarily were found in bottles (mainly PET with a screw-top lid or sports cap), some introductions opted for a pouch presentation. Hydrade Beverage's, Irving, Texas, Hydrade Sports Drink came in a 500 ml foil pouch, making the drink squeezable, easily openable and resealable.
Energy drinks, offering a quick boost to tired consumers, saw their new products clearly defined as those with a sugar-base versus high-intensity offerings that stimulate mind and body through active ingredients (i.e., caffeine and taurine). Few of the new introductions offered energy enhancement by means of sugars, and this trend is likely to continue. Cans provide convenience and, presumably, deliver the appropriate amount of fluid to provide an adequate energy boost, in addition to the fact that consumers are accustomed to the can-based energy drink.
The use of certain energy drinks in combination with alcohol became a popular trend in nightclubs and bars. Numerous media outlets raised concerns over the energy boost negating the sedative effects of alcohol, and the widespread ramifications and possible warnings are unclear at this point.
Pre-FABKeeping with the alcohol theme, flavored alcoholic beverages (FABs) continued their drive mainstream, boosted by more billboards and commercials. NBC's announcement of accepting advertisements from liquor companies promises further exposure and growth for the subcategory.
Malt-based Smirnoff Ice, Stamford, Conn., was among the first in this area, while Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis, and Bacardi USA, Miami, soon will debut the newest entry. Their single-serve Bacardi Silver will diverge from Bacardi USA's rum-centered past, instead offering a malt alternative to beer and packaged in a clear glass bottle.
A notable entry to this growing segment came from Miller Brewing, Milwaukee, and SKYY Spirits, San Francisco. SKYY Blue, made with natural flavors containing SKYY Vodka, launched last month.
Notable among traditional alcohol offerings this year (i.e., beer and wine), packaging played a key role, with a growth in single-serve wines and champagne bottles, as well as more alcohol products in PET. Miller Brewing's Lite variety, for example, debuted in 16-oz. plastic bottles packaged in a four-pack.
Getting JuicedBursting with new product introductions, the ready-to-drink (RTD) juices and juice drink categories were highly active. Notable introductions included Tropicana, Bradenton, Fla., Pure Premium organic and low-acid orange juice, as well as the debut of single-service organic juice drinks from Horizon Organic Dairy, Boulder, Col.
Functionality appeared less of a concern than it was in years past, though more developments are likely in RTD juices and juice drinks—particularly with pure juices and smoothies. The latter, in particular, appear to be experiencing tremendous growth.
Popular among American consumers have been herbal/botanical juice drinks, led by SoBe and Snapple. Formulations have included rosemary, ginseng, guarana, echinacea and kava root. With some offerings promising an energy boost, stimulation, calm or relaxation, others focused more on health concerns—protection against colds and other common ailments. While such beverages cannot carry health claims, companies rely on consumers' awareness of herbal remedies and use advertising and websites to educate the public.
One of the more interesting introductions in this area was from Phlo, New York. Their McCoy's branded Vital Cell Defense Zo fruit drinks claimed to be the only drinks with time-released vitamin E Ester-PC, which supposedly protects cells from the effects of aging and exposure to toxins, and stimulates cell repair.
While orange juice remained the most popular variety in the segment, other mainstream juice flavors included apple, grapefruit, grape, blends of these, as well as some exotic fruits-mango, kiwi and pineapple. Also coming to the fore was cranberry, as its healthful benefits generated quite a bit of interest among consumers.
More exotic fruit and vegetable blends gained strength, most with a carrot base. For example, Hy-Vee Manufacturing, West Des Moines, Iowa, launched Tropical Blend with carrot, apple, pineapple, kiwi, lime and mango. Also gaining in this area has been Campbell Soup's, Camden, N.J., V8 range, which broadened its line to feature a spicy hot vegetable juice.
Look for more functional ingredients, as well as more exotic flavors of juices. Mintel's database lists some recent novel introductions, including cactus, pomegranate, camu camu (a native fruit from Peru with 65 times more vitamin C than lemons), guanabana, guava and aronia berry.
Water, Water Everywhere—No, ReallySimilarly, bottled water products have seen their ranks bolstered by products adding flavors, ingredients and new packaging. Fruit flavors dominate the market, but similarly to juices, more exotic fruit flavors are finding their way into products.
Dannon, Allentown, Pa., has taken a rather novel approach by targeting children with a line of bottled water. Found in a 5-oz. plastic bottle, Dannon Fluoride To Go! provides children with a degree of dental protection, as well.
A number of companies have positioned water on a health platform—some simply providing vitamins or minerals, others teetering into the area of functional beverages.
Reebok and Clearly Canadian Beverage, Vancouver, took the vitamin and mineral route for their Fitness Water, as did Hansen Beverages, Corona, Calif. with its Energy Water. More adventuresome enhancement was seen in Soywater from Energy Brands, Whitestone, N.Y. This flavored water boasted soy isoflavones and vitamins.
Oxygenated waters also saw some activity, with Natural Air, Markham, Ontario, Canada, debuting Super Oxygenated Water, as well as Laska O2 Natural Spring Water coming from Alaska Spring Water.
Hot, Hot, Hot!Healthy hot beverages in the form of herbal teas, decaffeinated coffee, chicory “coffee,” Ayurvedic teas and enriched lines served as a source of growth. On the herbal front, Herbal Cafe Instant Cappuccino Mix provided gingko, ginseng and extra caffeine from Herbal Coffee International, Palm Valley, Fla.
New from Functional Products, Atlantic Beach, Fla., was Tango Instant Cappuccino enhanced with calcium. Natural energizers also made their way into a new product, as Avon Products', New York, Avon Wellness energy tea featured guarana and ginseng.
Gourmet varieties continued to innovate/reinvent the tea and coffee markets. Nestle's, Glendale, Calif., new whole bean in Colombian Classico, Kona and Hazelnut French Roast flavors served as a prime example.
On IceBoth tea and coffee continue to see their usage expanded in the iced arena, with particular emphasis on RTD iced tea, though Starbucks has seen success with a line of cappuccino-based products.
A diversity of flavors continues to be the word of the day in this category, as lemon led the way, followed by such unusual tastes as mombin flavor, guava berry starfruit, dragon fruit or cinnamon. Matika, a collaboration of Pepsi and Unilever, is a test range of high-end teas that includes Magic Mombin, purple mombin flavor (derived from a Jamaican plum) with green tea; Rising Starfruit, fucshia guave berry starfruit (an Asian citrus fruit) with green tea; Skyhigh Berry, blue starberry (a blend of blueberry and raspberry) with green tea; Dragonfruit Potion, red dragonfruit (also from Asia) and elderberry extract with black tea; and Mythical Mango, orange-colored tropical mango and pineapple with green tea.
Not that flavor is the only trend impacting this category, all-natural products also found an audience, as Honest Tea, Bethesda, Md., launched Organic Community Green tea made with Chinese tea leaves and essence of Maltese orange.
While few iced tea varieties offered enrichment claims or functional properties, some iced coffees boasted claims, though largely extolling a reduction of sugar, fat and/or calories. Cold coffees seemed content to incorporate a flavor. For example, Sunny Maid's, Monterey Park, Calif. Mr. Brown Ready-to-Drink Iced Coffee line debuted several new flavors: vanilla, cappuccino and Columbia. In addition, Buzzy's Beverage, Encinitas, Calif., launched a line of RTD coffees in mocha, French vanilla, hazelnut dream and Irish cream varieties. Probably the biggest brand of iced coffee is Starbucks', Seattle, Frappuccino, which recently expanded its line with a Hazelnut variety.
Expect more such flavor developments in this area, as well as an increased use of green tea in mainstream food products.
Sidebar: Great ExpectationsFewer beverages will boast herbal fortification, as more will be fortified with vitamins and minerals.
Waters continue to grow significantly, with more fortified products, more flavored products (especially with subtle, light flavors), and more products with some sort of a health twist.
The lines continue to blur between dairy beverages (flavored milks) and other beverages (juices or coffee drinks with milk ingredients).
More beverages will hit the market that are designed (implicitly or explicitly) as meal replacements. Most will be smoothie-type drinks containing some soy ingredients.
—Lynn Dornblaser, Global New Products Database, firstname.lastname@example.org