Health And Energy Dominate Product Development Trends
By CATHERINE PENN
Consumers follow trends — and yes, it’s all about health and energy these days. This year will be good for green tea and pomegranate-flavored beverages, natural flavors and organic ingredients.
In terms of resources, soft drink manufacturers devote less than 1 percent of their workforce to developing new drinks. More than half keep new product development work in house.
Last year, cola was anticipated to be the top selling flavor for 76 percent of soft drink manufacturers. In 2007, however, only 57 percent expect cola to be the top seller. Many are hedging toward tea — regular or green tea. Adding the percentages of those expecting regular and green tea to perform well in 2007, yields a flavor that is only a few percentage points behind cola.
Fifty percent of soft drink manufacturers said they were able to develop new products faster in 2006 compared to 2005. This was achieved through better organization and improved goals and objectives.
The data show 2006’s top-selling juice flavors will continue to be popular in 2007, with some growing more than others. Apple, which was No. 1 in 2006, will continue to be the top flavor in 2007 and will be followed by cranberry and pomegranate. Blueberry, which did not rank high in 2006, will be the fourth most popular juice flavor in the months ahead, according to respondents. Interest in acai and mango will grow this year. Grape and orange popularity in juice drinks, however, will decline in the coming months, especially orange.
Sales and marketing departments are included on every new product development team at water bottling companies. Upper management also is important and the chief executive officer often has years of experience to offer — 20 or more years is not uncommon in this category. The third most important team member is packaging followed by flavor chemists, customers and R&D.
Caffeine, vitamins and sweeteners are the most frequently researched ingredients, while flavors are at the bottom of the list. Forty-two percent of energy drink manufacturers use artificial flavors. Pomegranate and strawberry were the top-selling energy drink flavors in 2006 and are expected to continue in the lead through 2007.
Two years ago, only 25 percent of dairies included vitamins, minerals, iron and colloids in dairy drinks. In 2006, 53 percent were experimenting with vitamins, emphasizing the power of the current health trend. Dairy drinks producers estimate that 38 percent of a new drink’s total cost can be attributed to ingredients.
This year, dairies are planning to continue R&D at last year’s pace. Almost all will keep their budgets at current levels.
Half of all wine makers report that they have never had a failure. This research suggests that new wines R&D will remain on cruise control in the coming months — no accelerated timetable and no additional funds.