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North American Beverage Co.: Making a Better Bever...
North American Beverage Co.: Making a Better Beverage
By JAMIE POPP
When North American
Beverage Co., Ocean City, N.J., set out in 1993 to capture the chocolate
milk category with Chocolate Moose, the goal was to create the
best-tasting, better-for-you product available. Since the launch of its
first product in the early ‘90s, North American Beverage has
introduced drinks to not only tickle the taste buds but also satisfy
“People are drinking beverages more now to fit
their moods,” says John Imbesi, founder and president of North
American Beverage. “I think today it’s either share of mood or
share of mind [that determines what a person will drink.] That’s what
I see more people doing. People like convenient items as well.”
Banking on the penchant consumers have for indulging
in flavors such as chocolate, and gourmet coffee and cappuccino drinks, the
company relishes the opportunity to offer beverages to the market beyond
its flagship Chocolate Moose drink. It introduced the Havana Cappuccino
line in 1998, ready-to-drink Royal Mandalay Chai tea in 2001 and
Café Cubanos, a malt-based ready-to-drink gourmet coffee and rum
beverage, in 2003, based on trends in the market.
Working closely with its distribution network and
retailers, North American Beverage takes a team approach to stay on top of
consumer expectations. Whether it is new products or new flavors, the
company depends on the eyes and ears of its distributors and retailers to
“It’s a combination of listening to our
distributors and retailers [for innovative ideas],” Imbesi says.
“We pay attention to what the retailer and distributor is sharing
with us. They currently believe in both the ready-to-drink coffee and
flavored milk categories. Both retailers and distributors are also very
sensitive to all the health issues that are being raised today.”
In response to the trend in better-for-you products,
North American Beverage’s Chocolate Moose line carries the American
Heart Association’s “Healthy Heart” check mark logo and
the “Real Seal” of the American Dairy Association. The desire
to satisfy consumer preferences also resulted in recent flavor
introductions such as Chocolate Moose Diet White Chocolate, Chocolate Moose
Cookies & Cream, Havana Cappuccino Dulce de Leche, Havana Cappuccino
Diet Low Carb Mocha and Diet Low Carb Vanilla.
Once a product is developed, North American Beverage
relies on blind taste test results, working with tasters of all ages to
tweak beverages to meet consumers’ needs and wants. To that end, it
plans to introduce new flavors in the Havana and Chocolate Moose lines in
Distributor and retailer feedback is not only
instrumental in developing new flavors. It also plays a role in packaging.
“Our mission is to have the highest quality
products in very innovative and memorable packaging — packaging that people like to use and like to be
associated with,” Imbesi says. “My philosophy is that the most
important advertising a product can have is the package it comes in.”
Using both independent companies and the Coca-Cola and
Pepsi-Cola systems for bottling and distribution, North American
Beverage’s products are available throughout the United States, and
internationally in countries such as Canada, Mexico, Korea, Australia and
the United Kingdom. The advantages of working within two of the largest
soft drink systems as well as within the independent soft drink channel
include production expertise and direct-store-delivery opportunities. The
company also uses wholesalers in its distribution model, according to
“The direct-store-delivery [channel] is most
successful,” Imbesi says. “We do more than 70 to 75 percent of
our business in on-premise [immediate-consumption] accounts.
“We have a basic business,” he adds.
“[Our goals for the future growth are] always gaining and
Many products on the market promise a serving chock
full of health benefits. However, validating the claims that marketers make
can sometimes be a challenge in the eyes of a doubting public. North
American Beverage decided it was not only going to make
“better-for-you” claims on its Chocolate Moose line but it also
was going to back them up.
“Good-for-you is a broad category, and with that
broad brush good-for-you has to have the credibility behind it,” says
John Imbesi, founder and president of North American Beverage. “Who
says it’s good for you? Who recognizes what’s good for you? And
the consumer says, ‘Why should I believe it’s
Taking its claim to the American Heart Association and
the American Dairy Association, North American Beverage wanted to certify
that its fat-free, cholesterol-free, low-sodium milk beverage, which also
met the United States recommended daily allowance for calcium, was the real
North American Beverage succeeded at validating its
assertion. A few years after introducing the Moose line, the company added
the American Heart Association’s “Healthy Heart” check
mark logo and the “Real Seal” of the American Dairy Association
to the package.
I want to hear from you. Tell me how we can improve.
The May 2020 edition dives into where beverages fit in the future of cannabis. Readers also can find out how beverage market and retailers are adjusting to handle coronavirus. Additionally, this issue highlights the latest trends impacting protein and sports drinks, fiber and probiotics, packaging design and much more!