As you’ll read in today’s newsletter, BodyArmor’s newest product is not a liquid. It’s a powder, packaged in a single-serve stick. The sports drink brand is the latest to add the format, which is catching on with consumers looking for convenient and highly portable functionality.
Analysts at Consumer Edge Research wrote in March that single-serve, non-ready-to-drink beverages — while small relative to the entire US non-alcoholic beverage market — were growing...
Ninja's New Thirsti Drink System Takes on SodaStream
August 30, 2023
PepsiCo’s SodaStream has new competition from kitchen appliance maker Ninja. The Ninja Thirsti Drink System launched in late July. The company sent me a unit to try. Here are my observations:
— The primary difference in Thirsti versus SodaStream is that drinks are produced by the glass instead of by the bottle. With SodaStream and most other sparkling water appliances, including Aarke and Drinkmate, water is carbonated inside a multi-serve bottle. The user removes the bottle and pours in flavor syrup, shaking the mixture by hand. With Thirsti, water is drawn from a reservoir that is refillable and removable for fridge chilling. Changeable concentrate pods automatically release...
Beverage companies are all about innovation, and so is Beverage Digest. In addition to creating a dynamic speaker lineup for our Dec. 11 Future Smarts conference in Manhattan, we are adding a new-for-us networking opportunity for attendees.
The plan is to host a welcome reception for all registered attendees on the Sunday night before our Monday event. We’ll announce more details soon. This gathering will be a chance to share drinks and bites with old industry friends and forge new relationships. We also recognize that with so much remote work these days, Future Smarts is an ideal opportunity for far-flung team members to connect — and perhaps even meet and socialize for the first time.
As for our program, we’ve announced two more high-level executive speakers: Coca-Cola North America President Jennifer Mann, and PepsiCo Beverages North America Chief Supply Chain Officer Karen Jordan. We’ve also assembled a stellar Wall Street panel. Here’s a sneak peek at the insights I intend to uncover for attendees.
For the past decade, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have diverged in the US when it comes to soft drink distribution strategy. Coke owns no soda distribution operations, leaving that in recent years to independent franchised bottlers. On the other hand, PepsiCo owns and operates most of its US bottling distribution system. Now that both companies are seeking a growth path through alcoholic beverages, their strategies in the US have diverged once again.
As you’ll read in today’s issue, PepsiCo is going all-in on the distribution of alcoholic beverages such as Hard Mtn Dew with its Blue Cloud Distribution subsidiary. The company appears...
For years, juice has been off limits for consumers who avoid sugar. Juice drinks, which generally contain very little actual juice and high sugar content, were certainly a no-no for these consumers. Then even 100% juice fell out of favor, despite a health halo, as warnings about sugar mounted, especially when it came to children. Sales of 100% OJ have declined for almost two decades, before the Covid pandemic brought a short reprieve. PepsiCo even sold off a majority stake of its Tropicana business to private equity firm PAI partners in 2021 to focus on higher growth products.
But there is now some innovation to keep an eye on, with major juice brand Tropicana recently launching a Zero Sugar line of lemonade and fruit punch juice drinks with no artificial sweeteners. The products contain either 3% or 5% juice and are sweetened with stevia instead of sugar. Tropicana marketers pitch the new Zero Sugar line as “guilt-free.”
I don’t usually review products, but I’ve tried the new Tropicana Zero Sugar line and the drinks are good. This is surely due to advancements in no-calorie sweetener technology.
Tropicana is no stranger to stevia, having launched a stevia-sweetened product called Trop50 way back in 2009 just after the FDA made no objection to the natural sweetener’s use in food. The lower-sugar product (50% less than pure OJ) became a bright spot for the brand’s OJ lineup — but it still contained sugar. Trop50 addressed not only the sugar barrier, but also an aversion to artificial sweeteners expressed by some consumers (whether justified or not).
Stevia technology — and sweetener systems in general — have come a long way since. Tropicana’s line of ...
Laura and I just returned from a week rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. The 188-mile trip in a 15-person motorized raft included six nights of camping along the river, more than 60 rapids, several hikes to springs and waterfalls, and a helicopter ride out of the canyon. It was exhilarating and exhausting.
Here are my quick takeaways from the adventure:
— Laura and I completely disconnected from our business for seven days — no cell signal, and satellite phones weren’t allowed. While unsettling, it was remarkable how quickly and easily our focus shifted entirely to the river and the moments at hand.
— Most of the liquid we consumed was water and powdered sports drinks dispensed from large coolers. We took along canned soft drinks and beer, which were chilled in mesh bags dragged through the cold river behind the raft. I was surprised how quickly we got used to packaged drinks chilled to 50-degrees rather than 34-degrees, and just how refreshing they still were after a day on the river under an often blistering sun. And, as anywhere, those drinks were the social glue every evening as the group of 29 sat in circles and swapped stories.
— I learned just how resilient aluminum cans are, and that all are not made equal. Most cans survived the rapids. A few broke, especially a particular root beer brand whose lightweighted can apparently hadn’t been designed with a river drag in mind. And while days pulled through sandy water does a number on a can’s paint job, they remained readable! I wonder if Ball has considered testing here?
— Interrupting a cushy lifestyle in one’s 50s to sleep on foldable cots on silt beaches under the stars for six nights is a shock to the system. Sand blown in your face at night. Bats. Aching back. Middle-of-the-night temperature changes. A lack of privacy (I won’t even describe the bathroom situation – look it up). Despite it all, I feel fortunate to have gotten so out of my life’s comfort zone and to have experienced a world’s wonder up close.
A year ago, I wrote that US beverage bottlers saw no “competitive stupid” retail soft drink pricing, as one person put it, during the Memorial Day weekend. This year, a quick informal survey of supermarket circulars across the country finds the same rational promotional landscape, even as pricing remains elevated.
Our team has just released the 28th Edition of the Beverage Digest Fact Book, detailing 2022 in-depth sales results and other data across the US non-alcoholic beverage industry. This data differs from the quarterly data reports published in BD’s newsletters because it includes sales of packaged and fountain drinks across all channels, including retail stores and foodservice outlets.
Today’s special issue is a top-level view of that annual all-channel Fact Book report. The following pages cover major beverage companies, categories, trademarks, and brands. It’s your quick reference guide to how the biggest players are performing in both liquid refreshment beverages and carbonated soft drinks, and it provides a snapshot of the intense competition in the U.S. beverage business.
For much more detail into the numbers, you’ll want to purchase the full Fact Book, available HERE. This deep 67-page report covers CSDs, packaged water, sports drinks, energy drinks, juice, and ready-to-drink coffee and tea. It includes...
I’m beyond pleased to announce our first confirmed speaker for Future Smarts 2023: Coca-Cola Consolidated President and COO Dave Katz.
Dave will bring to December’s Future Smarts audience a deep expertise and broad perspective when it comes to the US Coke system. Having joined the former Coca-Cola Enterprises in 1993 as a logistics consultant, his work at the massive North America bottler included managing supply chain strategy, procuring billions of dollars worth of materials for the Coke system, and managing sales operations on the East Coast. Dave joined Coca-Cola in 2011 after the company’s acquisition of CCE, running bottling operations in the Midwest. After moving to Coca-Cola Consolidated in 2013 as a senior vice president, Dave would eventually serve as CFO before being named COO in late 2018.
Dave manages daily operations at a bellwether bottler within the US Coke system. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Coke Consolidated is the largest US Coke bottler, handling a fifth of Coca-Cola’s bottle and can volume in the country, according to BD’s The Coke and Pepsi Systems franchise map book. Operations stretch across 14 Southeast, Midwest, and Mid-Atlantic states and Washington D.C. The company is the only publicly traded bottler in the US Coke system.
I’ll sit down with Dave for a fireside chat to discuss his up-to-date views on soft drink pricing, important consumer and retail shifts, sustainability pressures, and more. He’ll also discuss how Consolidated’s focus on culture and purpose drives business decisions.
That interview and our other stage chats, presentations, and panels will be hosted on Dec. 11 at a venue that is new to Future Smarts. We chose Convene in part for its modern networking spaces that will make connecting easy and productive. Our conference sessions, sampling expo, networking meals and breaks, and registration will be on a single floor with plenty of room to both mingle and do business.
In addition to this terrific venue, our content will be as compelling and timely ever. And that now starts with Dave Katz. Look for more announcements soon and we’ll see you at Future Smarts 2023.