This year, the energy
drink phenomenon continued to flourish, low-carb came and went — but
left its mark, and some big hitters in the industry bent the rules with new
products. As 2004 draws to a close, we’ve taken the opportunity to
look back at the year, and highlight some of its stand-out products and
packages. Managing Editor Jamie Popp has put together a special new
products section that features the year’s most innovative products
— the drinks that forged new trends, made use of new flavors and
ingredients, or had an impact on the industry overall — and among the
“best products” are some decidedly new ideas from large
2004 has been a transition year for some beverage
categories. Beer and soft drink companies, in particular, have had to face
fundamental changes in consumer behavior that some had tried hard to ignore
in the past. But this year, a few companies seemed to rethink category
boundaries and forge new territory.
Overall, there were fewer innovative products this
year than last year, according to Productscan Online, which tracks
innovations in formulation, technology, positioning, packaging, new markets
and merchandising. During the first 11 months of the year, 83 beverage
reports qualified as innovative vs. 116 for the same period last year. But
unlike some years past, it’s been the big companies that have stepped
out with category-bending ideas.
Not all of the products were immediately successful.
Mid-calorie C2 and Pepsi Edge soft drinks weren’t met with rousing
fanfare when they were released this summer. But the products did represent
a new direction in soft drinks, and one that was long overdue. In a time
when the media has been obsessed with obesity, soft drink companies have,
rather unfairly, taken a beating, despite their range of both diet and
full-calorie products. The new mid-calorie colas have helped the industry
rethink diet vs. regular, and have opened beverages to new ideas in
Cadbury Schweppes put an equally new spin on soft
drinks with 7 UP Plus, a vitamin- and calcium-fortified, lower-calorie soft
drink with a touch of juice. The product defies standard soft drink or
juice drink definitions, and if successful, has the potential be its own
Beer companies have similarly faced stiff competition
during the past several years, in this case from spirits (and spirits and
energy drink mixes). This year, Anheuser-Busch faced that challenge with a
surprise rollout of BE energy-enhanced beer. The cross-over product
represents an entirely new direction for this traditional company.
It’s too early to determine if these products will be
successful or if they will be the clear colas of their day. But it has been
interesting to watch as these beverage-makers have tried to stay true to their
roots while meeting very current market changes. For our part, Beverage Industry
will have a few changes of its own in the upcoming year. I won’t give
them away, but we’re looking forward to offering some new format and feature
changes in 2005. Until then, we wish you safe and happy holidays and all the
best in the new year.
Beverage Distributor of the Year — Pepsi Bottling Group
Beverage Industry’s October issue features a cover story on our 2019 Executive of the Year, Jim Koch of the Boston Beer Co. This issue also features a category focus on bottled water and the innovations that abound in flavored, functional and sparkling waters. The issue also includes an ingredient spotlight on the beloved chocolate ingredient as well as voice-picking solutions aimed at streamlining beverage warehouses. As usual, we rounded up the latest trends in products, packaging and ingredients.
Check back throughout the month for additional content.