Ten years ago, when South African Breweries moved its headquarters to London, it sought to become one of the major players in a consolidating global beer business. The plan not only made the brewer, now known as SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewer, it also positioned the company to succeed in both good times and bad, including one of the worst economic recessions in a century.
Although it has been a beverage leader for years, bottled water is now facing a number of challenges to keep sales growing. Many companies have opted to branch out with enhanced or functional waters, while others have moved to larger sizes and multi-packs for the more economical take-home market.
Beverage companies are playing both sides of the fence in 2009, offering traditional comfort flavors and newer, more exotic fruit and floral flavors. In addition, beverage flavoring systems are becoming more complex with the increase in functional ingredients, the addition of multiple sweetening options, and even the use of no sweetener at all.
Consumers are buying private label beverages at a growing rate.
Private label beverage categories such as canned and bottled tea,
shelf-stable fruit juices and nectars, iced coffee, sports and energy
drink mixes and carbonated soft drinks have all experienced
double-digit sales growth in the past year.
Bill Meissner, president of TalkingRain, says the Preston, Wash.-based water company that makes the Twist and Activwater brands has been around for more than two decades, but acts a lot like a startup. As a veteran of companies such as SoBe and Fuze, that’s exactly where Meissner is most comfortable. He took over the reins at TalkingRain in January, and has made it a priority to expand those products in the same way he helped build his previous brands.