Alternative Beverages Stay On The Edge

December 1, 2004
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Alternative Beverages Stay On The Edge


By JOANNA COSGROVE
Unconventional flavors, formulations add flair to popular segment
The alternative beverage category is distinguished by its use of cutting-edge ingredients and formulations that push the bounds of creativity to a point where the beverages not only quench thirst, but offer a variety of value-added premises.  
A key driver propelling the growth and diversity of this segment is the manufacturer’s ability to detect and interpret consumer needs into an appealing beverage concept. “Alternative beverages represent the future of the beverage industry,” comments Joe Heron, president, Ardea Beverage Co., Hopkins, Minn., maker of Airforce Nutrisoda. “The growth is robust [and] appears sustainable as consumers and industry buyers support more creative approaches to beverage consumption and shelf space allocation.”
Heron says consumers today are more discerning and experimental. “[They are] looking for products that have intrinsic/physical added value, and emotional added value that helps them feel good about themselves and their choices.”
Heron adds that the category is dominated by health, wellness and obesity concerns. “Products that facilitate health and weight management will grow exponentially as long as they are marketed in an appealing manner – consumers do not want to drink medicine,” he says.
Ardea’s flagship Airforce beverage brand is a line of carbonated health and wellness solutions positioned as a “lifestyle brand.” The Nutrisodas line consists of six carb-free, naturally flavored varieties with unique health claims and flavor combinations, including Pomegranate & Blackberry flavored Radiant, formulated with amino acids and nutrients to improve the elasticity and firmness of the skin; and Flex, a Black Cherry & Apple-flavored soda formulated with glucosamine and chondroitin for enhanced joint mobility.
Herbal Enterprises, the Lake Success, New York-based licensing arm of Ferolito Vultaggio & Sons, maker of Arizona Beverages, recently debuted a revamped line of alternative carbonated soft drinks — Soho Natural Sodas. Soho’s five flavors — Blueberry Soda, Root Beer, Lemon-Lime, Cola, and Orange Soda — feature cane sugar and no preservatives, artificial colors or artificial flavors.
“Health conscious consumers are very knowledgeable about ingredients and very particular about what they put in their bodies,” says Francie Patton, vice president, corporate communications, Arizona Beverages. “Soho Soda is a healthy alternative to carbonated soft drinks.”
The new Soho Sodas are packaged in 23-ounce cans printed with a black and white line drawing of the New York City skyline. The color of the sky in back of the skyline coincides with the flavor in the can.
White tea wave
First, traditional iced teas were all the rage. Then green teas emerged as a health-conscious favorite. The newest tea to garner interest and accolades is white tea, a rare brew that originates from the bud of the tea plant. White tea is one of the least processed forms of tea, which is one reason it is thought to contain the highest level of antioxidants.
“The [alternative beverage] category has been nothing short of explosive due to a ‘perfect storm’ scenario of an aging U.S. population already focused on health, and a new willingness of the younger demographic to experiment with healthier beverages that are lower in calories but don’t sacrifice taste,” says Andy Schamisso, president and founder, Inko’s Tea, New York City.
Inko’s White Teas are available in original White Tea, White Peach, Honeydew, Blueberry and Unsweet-ened Hint O’ Mint white tea flavor varieties.
Fuze Beverages LLC, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., has made its own distinctive impression in the white tea realm, launching No Carb Diet Pomegranate White Tea with a “super charged” antioxidant capacity equal to three servings of vegetables. The beverage boasts no carbohydrates, no calories and six essential vitamins (C, E, B3, B5, B6, B12), plus folic acid and polyphenols.

Lance Collins, Fuze’s founder and chief executive officer, says enhanced juices and teas are very much in demand due to their healthy appeal. “The antioxidants in Fuze Diet Pomegranate White Tea are believed to stop production of free radicals, which have been linked to cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis and aging,” he says. “This, combined with the popular pomegranate flavor, is sure to appeal to health-conscious shoppers.” BI

Top fruit drinks by brand
  DOLLAR % change vs. Market % change vs.
Brand SALES prior year Share prior year
TROPICANA TWISTER $82,790,360 -8.8% 11.5 -1.3
SNAPPLE $40,393,020 -4.0% 5.6 -0.3
CRYSTAL LIGHT $10,823,110 -10.7% 1.5 -0.2
SNAPPLE ELEMENTS $9,898,979 20.7% 1.4 0.2
MINUTE MAID LIGHT $9,682,955 1,291.1% 1.3 1.2
MINUTE MAID $9,372,102 22.5% 1.3 0.2
BELLYWASHERS $8,292,363 -38.0% 1.2 -0.7
V 8 SPLASH $8,233,830   1.1
MISTIC $5,323,082 -14.6% 0.7 -0.1
DIET SNAPPLE $4,915,660 -33.9% 0.7 -0.4
Source: Information Resources Inc. Total food, drug and mass merchandise (excluding Wal-Mart) for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 31, 2004.
Canned and bottled tea sales by brand
  DOLLAR % change vs. Market % change vs.
Brand SALES prior year Share prior year
ARIZONA $139,635,000 41.0% 22.6 5.1
SNAPPLE $89,402,710 4.6% 14.4 -0.6
LIPTON BRISK TEA $86,156,700 -10.6% 13.9 -3.1
DIET SNAPPLE $75,157,980 10.7% 12.1 0.2
NESTEA COOL $63,722,900 -11.1% 10.3 -2.3
LIPTON ICED TEA $40,168,020 -0.1% 6.5 -0.6
PRIVATE LABEL $22,928,930 25.9% 3.7 0.5
LIPTON $17,453,560 19.5% 2.8 0.2
NESTEA $17,326,140 12.1% 2.8 0.1
SOBE   $12,009,260 2.9% 1.9 -0.1
 
Source: Information Resources Inc. Total food, drug and mass merchandise (excluding Wal-Mart) for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 31, 2004.
Cappuccino/ready-to-drink coffee
  DOLLAR % change vs. Market % change vs.
Brand SALES prior year Share prior year
FRAPPUCCINO $127,615,300 14.7% 86.8 0.1
DOUBLESHOT $16,138,590 23.9% 11.0 0.8
KAHLUA $826,464 137.5% 0.6 0.3
STARBUCKS $593,703   0.4 0.4
WOLFGANG PUCK $544,971 1,178.2% 0.4 0.3
HAVANA $379,676 -14.9% 0.3 -0.1
ROYAL KONA $172,990 426.0% 0.1 0.1
CAFFE D VITA $171,710 869.3% 0.1 0.1
MAIN ST CAFE $151,076 -23.3% 0.1 -0.1
MR BROWN $139,294 79.6% 0.1 0.0
Source: Information Resources Inc. Total food, drug and mass merchandise (excluding Wal-Mart) for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 31, 2004.

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