We’ve assembled an exceptional program of speakers for this year’s Future Smarts conference, with more announcements to come. Our mostly 30-minute sessions are designed to be fast-paced, with a chance for attendees to participate with questions. This virtual program is hosted in real time because we like that energy.
Speakers: What We Want To Know
The day will begin with Alfredo Rivera, Coca-Cola’s North America Operating Unit President. This is Rivera’s first industry conference appearance since taking over the reorganized unit a little more than a year ago. I’ll ask him about his vision for the market, the unit’s prospects for growth, and Coke’s response to the post-pandemic era. I’ll also ask about the company’s plans to dive back into advertising now that they’ve named a new global media partner.
Then we’ll shift to Coca-Cola’s North American bottling system, in a discussion with Rob Gehring, President and CEO of Swire Coca-Cola, USA. In this unprecedented period of high retail store demand and increased pricing power amid escalating labor, transportation, and input costs, we’ll ask Rob about the strategies his team is using to both capitalize and manage. We’ll also get his assessment of how quickly immediate consumptions channels such as fountain and convenience retail will bounce back.
Next, I’ll dive deep with our always popular Wall Street analyst panel to learn how they are assessing the North American beverage landscape, from distribution to M&A. This panel will include two experts on public beverage companies. Future Smarts regular Bonnie Herzog from Goldman Sachs is well-known for her deep-dive surveys with US convenience store operators. Lauren Lieberman from Barclays will make her first Future Smarts appearance and I am looking forward to her sharp read on what’s ahead. I look forward to their views on category blurring between alcohol and non-alcohol.
With the US beverage industry reaching the halfway mark in its goal to reduce beverage calories consumed, we will check in with headline sponsor PureCircle by Ingredion to get a read on the latest innovation in sugar reduction and specialty sweeteners. We’ll be joined for that by Nate Yates, Vice President of Global Sugar Reduction at Ingredion.
Future Smarts also brings you voices from proven, cutting-edge innovators who are propelling the newest product and consumer trends. This year, I’ll talk to Canopy Growth Chief Innovation Officer Julian Cohen about the cannabis beverage category that the company is helping to pioneer with help from a major investment by US beer brewer Constellation Brands. I’ll ask him whether CBD beverages are a warmup to an even bigger potential prize, psychotropic THC drinks.
Speaking of innovation, Danone North America Executive Vice President and CEO Shane Grant will discuss how his company balances beverage offerings in both dairy and plant-based dairy alternatives to meet the needs of a growing and diverse group of “flexitarian” consumers who are willing to pay for added value and functionality.
American Beverage President and CEO Katherine Lugar will join me for a discussion about the right way for the industry to take a seat at the table on the urgent issue of plastic recovery and recycling. Decisions today will be crucial on the regulatory front in the years to come.
Then we'll talk to CEO Branden Muhl of cutting edge Pepsi bottler Mahaska about how he and his team are approaching technology and efficiency in a demanding distribution environment.
We’ll close the day with a flourish as PepsiCo Beverages North America CMO Greg Lyons discusses his company’s approach to profitably reaching consumers during all parts of their day, from energy to sleep. I’ll ask him about his view of the US carbonated soft drink market and how it fits into PepsiCo’s broader portfolio.
Finally, we'll announce our 2021 Beverage Digest Awards winners, which will give attendees a chance to see a range of innovation in 12 categories including Best Functional Drink, Best Hard Seltzer, Best CBD/Hemp Drink, and Best Technology.
Themes We Will Explore
The global beverage industry is powering through a pivotal reset period following the extreme disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. With that in mind, Future Smarts 2021 will examine critical industry themes and questions including:
• Challenges and opportunities as lines blur between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage innovation, brand ownership and distribution.
• On the heels of Coke’s purchase of BodyArmor, how will big beverage companies further diversify their portfolios? How will entrepreneurs and startups shape those decisions?
• The sustainability of beverage pricing growth in the US and the cost picture ahead.
• Which consumer habits will stick post-pandemic? What new trends may be on the horizon?
• How will consumer and governmental reaction to plastic packaging progress, and how far should industry go to find a solution?
Again, if you haven’t registered, you won’t want to miss this program. Book your slot now.
We can’t wait to see you.
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