‘Dink’ Latest Example of Beverages Targeting Exploding Pickleball Community
April 6, 2023
The exploding popularity of pickleball in the US has created a gold rush for beverage companies looking to capitalize on the sport, which is a miniaturized version of tennis played with a hollow plastic ball, oversized ping-pong-like paddle, and bespoke set of rules. A large part of the appeal of pickleball is the democratic nature of the game, which proponents say draws a diverse group of players from across the spectrum of age and athletic ability. That reach, coupled with the social nature of pickleball, is good for consumer packaged goods brands, too, say Pennsylvania craft beer brewers and beverage co-packers Joe and Abby Feerrar. The husband-and-wife team is launching what they believe to be the first non-alcoholic ready-to-drink beverage created with pickleball players specifically in mind. “Dink,” named for the shot that is a staple of the small-court game, will debut this weekend at a pickleball event...
The following is transcript of Beverage Digest's podcast, The Breeze, Episode 3.
Our guest today is Matt Hughes, Vice President of Incubation for New Revenue Streams at Coca-Cola. Insiders might remember this unit as Venturing & Emerging Brands (VEB), of which Matt is a founding member. He has spent 30 years in the beverage industry, including as an entrepreneur. We talk to Matt about this month's Natural Products Expo West to compare notes on natural product trends, up-and-coming wellness brands, and what it takes to break through in a crowded sector defined by high failure rates and a huge potential upside...
Our debut episode, “Is Gatorade Beatable?” explores Coca-Cola’s mission to use a combined BodyArmor and Powerade to overtake sports drink leader Gatorade in the coming years. Coke leaders are through being an also-ran in this category, and PepsiCo has no plans to give up its supremacy. That will make for great competition, even as the category shifts beneath both companies’ feet with the emergence of “rapid hydration.”
Episode 2, “Is Sprite Beatable?” delves into PepsiCo’s Starry lemon-lime soda launch and the company’s plans to disrupt the dominance of Coca-Cola’s Sprite. We discuss how Sprite spent decades embracing hip-hop and the NBA to build a loyal consumer base, and how PepsiCo has decided to start from scratch with Starry to reach Gen Z consumers after years of struggles with lemon-lime brands including Sierra Mist.
Vying for Attention: Functional Mocktails, Seaweed, Upcycling, Canned Sports Drink, Hard Honey
March 16, 2023
Natural Products Expo West was nearly back to pre-pandemic form this year with more than 3,000 exhibitors and 65,000 attendees. The show, held last week in Anaheim, California, hosts the vanguard of consumer health and wellness trends, mostly in packaged food and beverage. Had you been at Expo West in 1999, you would have seen bottled organic tea brand Honest in its infancy, a dozen years before Coca-Cola would eventually acquire the company in full from co-founder and fair trade tea evangelist Seth Goldman. While many brands at the show will fail, they often still represent trends that will one day go mainstream and generate meaningful growth, usually at premium pricing. As a result, Expo West is a magnet for strategic companies, private equity investors, distributors, and retailers looking for the next big trend or growth brand. With all of this in mind, BD walked the show floor — 10 football fields in size — for three days, spending most of that time in the “Hot Products” zones, where the smallest and newest companies exhibit. Here’s what caught our attention:
Back in my Bloomberg News days a decade ago, a colleague and ex-options trader, who was often intrigued by health and profit hacks, brewed a cup of Keurig coffee one morning and whisked it with grass-fed butter. He extolled the virtues of the concoction for both health and mental acuity. He believed it gave him the kind of physical edge that folks on Wall Street and Silicon Valley are forever striving to unlock.
Before long, seemingly everyone looking for an edge was talking about that trend and the brand fueling it, Bulletproof. Founder David Asprey had been energized by the yak-butter tea he drank during a meditation excursion in Tibet. Asprey introduced US consumers to grass-fed butter coffee by way of Bulletproof in 2013. The company included a healthy fat called MCT oil to provide energy to the brain and body. Bulletproof became a cornerstone of the keto diet fad, a modern on a low-carb diet. Keto encouraged consumption of quality fats and protein.
Bulletproof sold plenty of coffee beans, pods, and MCT oil. However, the company’s ready-to-drink offering, launched in 2017, hasn’t caught on and may have been too late, despite the brand’s keto-on-the-go promise. Instead, Super Coffee has dominated the MCT-infused keto coffee space. A 2018 appearance on Shark Tank, investments from the likes of NFL quarterback Aaron Rogers and pop star Jennifer Lopez, and a 2020 national distribution partnership with Anheuser-Busch has propelled that brand to the forefront.
That’s why Starbucks’ launch of olive oil infused coffees at a cafe in Italy is especially eye-catching. Called Oleato, the barista-prepared drinks — in hot and iced forms — appear to take cues from the MCT coffee craze, although Starbucks’ pitch is all about mouthfeel. “The alchemy of Starbucks arabica coffee and premium Partanna extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) creates an entirely new experience, taking on a depth and dimension that simply must be tasted to be believed,” the company’s website states. The drinks are headed to California in the spring.
As I tweeted last week, Oleato is just the kind of innovation that could one day jump to the RTD market by way of Starbucks’ JV with PepsiCo. That successful partnership has...
The following is transcript of Beverage Digest's podcast, The Breeze, Episode 2. Duane Stanford invites beverage industry expert (and former Beverage Digest publisher) John Sicher to discuss the lemon-lime category's past, present and future.
PepsiCo is starting from scratch and creating a brand new lemon-lime soda: Starry. After dominating the segment for thirty years, Sprite now has a new competitor. Do we have a legitimate lemon-lime war again? Duane Stanford invites beverage industry expert (and former Beverage Digest publisher) John Sicher to discuss the lemon-lime category's past, present and future.
Brand Looks to Capitalize on ‘Rapid Hydration’ Trend Without Going Into 'Hole.'
February 16, 2023
’We’re Not Desperate,” Co-founder Says, Thanks to Military Focus.
Military-focused isotonic brand Hoist is on the hunt for outside investment capital to help fund a deeper and eventually wider push into traditional retail markets, according to the brand’s founders. Hoist currently derives more than half of its revenue from US military sales, Co-founder and President Kelly Heekin told BD in an interview. Outside of the armed forces, Hoist’s traditional retail footprint comprises about...