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...
Occasionally, my late grandfather drank an ice-cold Miller Lite after mowing his yard on a humid Memphis day. He’d pour it into a mug and tap in a bit of salt. He had quit any social drinking decades earlier, but that cold beer spelled refreshment to him.
Refreshment has never been my only reason for drinking beer. Which is probably why the appeal of non-alcoholic beer has puzzled me, especially at the same price as a regular beer. Beer commands the price it does in part because of the functionality of alcohol. For refreshment, I’ll take a sports drink, or a soda. That’s why I wrote in this column last year that I am a non-alcoholic beer skeptic. I write today to tell you that I am becoming a believer — with a caveat.
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.
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 past year brought considerable backlash to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) activities within corporate America and finance. Republicans like former Vice President Mike Pence say “the woke left” wants to impose “a radical environmental and social agenda on publicly traded corporations.” Alternatively, environmentalist organizations like the Sierra Club have sued Coca-Cola and other beverage companies for allegedly “greenwashing” the negative impact of their operations. The SEC has proposed new ...
If you have young adults in your life, hopefully they have introduced you to bubble tea, also known as boba tea. This combination of tea, milk, and gelatin-like tapioca pearls, invented decades ago in Taiwan, can by now be found in strip mall cafes all over the US. Almost always there are high school and college students inside slurping boba beads through oversized straws. Franchised versions of the concept have of course followed.
Having visited a few of these bubble tea cafes with my kids, I was primed to notice several ready-to-drink and make-at-home versions seeking to capitalize on the boba trend — and to take drink occasions away from iced and bottled coffee. Here are a couple:
During an interview at Future Smarts last month, a Wall Street analyst said he would have been laughed off the stage several years ago had he predicted US carbonated soft drink pricing growth of +15% without a troubling pullback in volume. No one is laughing now. Consumer acceptance of significant pricing growth across major beverage categories has shocked even the most seasoned industry watchers. Despite the price escalation, CSD volumes declined at a manageable -1.4% last year. Energy drink makers, who are generally slower to boost prices in a booming category with lots of new entrants, raised pricing by +6.3% and still added +3.5% more volume. While Sports drink category ...
Alcohol was a hot topic at our Future Smarts conference on Dec. 5 in New York.
A Pepsi bottler made news related to alcohol distribution, and executives at Coca-Cola and
PepsiCo made even clearer their interest in the sector. You’ll find a related story in today’s
The Coke executive was Henrique Braun, the company’s incoming president of international development. In an on-stage interview, we talked a lot about Coke’s core non-alcoholic business as well. I asked him about his priorities for the...
Being a nosy beverage industry journalist and commentator, I often ask people what’s in their refrigerator. Sometimes I look myself -- with permission! So, it’s only fair that I share my personal beverage landscape, plus some observations:
Bottled water is an anchor beverage for our house. It is convenient. We always have a case of private label filtered water on hand. From there, we branch out into 1-liter or larger bottles of branded spring, electrolyte, or specialty water depending on what’s on promotion. While we are brand agnostic, we prefer filtered water over the softness of spring water. We are recyclers.
We like zero sugar colas and root beers as a pick-me-up or refresher. While cans are the norm, we buy PET bottles when our preference is out of stock. We like promotions but we’ll generally...