Best New Products of 2004

Every Year Beverage Industry Canvases the Market to Come up With the Products That Wowed the Beverage Beat. in Addition to Appearing on Store Shelves in 2004, the Drinks Selected This Year set Trends, Pioneered Ingredients, Created Categories or Captured Attention Through Sheer Innovation. the Impact the Product had or Will Have on the Industry Also was Tossed Into the Criteria Mix. This Year’s Best new Products are Divided Into Categories Based on Trends we Covered During the Year: the Low-carb Craze, Energy Evolution, Fortified Entries, Exotic Flavor Additions, and Limited-edition Arrivals.
Low-carb craze
It seemed that 2004 was a year unlike any other for diet consciousness. Like low-fat, low-sodium and other health-related diet trends, low-carb quickly gripped the U.S. market as the fear of obesity was impressed on everyone’s minds. While low-carb beer hit the market hard with “better-for-you” messaging and lighter formulas, other beverages remained free of pressure to go “low-carb” when the craze initially took off. However, it wasn’t long before we began to see everything from spirits to teas testing the low-carbohydrate/carbohydrate-free superhighway as the year continued. And who could forget this summer’s low-calorie cola war that wasn’t?
We selected No Carb Diet Pomegranate White Tea, produced by Fuze Beverage, Pacific Beverage’s Pacific Chai Reduced Carb Vanilla and Reduced Carb Spice Chai Lattes, R.W. Knudsen Spritzer Lights, One.6 and One.9 wines introduced by Brown-Forman Wines and colas Pepsi Edge and C2 as the best new products for calorie and carb-conscious consumers.
It was New Jersey-based Fuze Beverage that entered the race with a ready-to-drink tea that fits the bill of being no carb as well as pomegranate-enhanced, taking advantage of one of the most popular flavors in the beverage industry during 2004. The tea is Ace K-sweetened, passion fruit- and pomegranate-flavored, and is loaded with vitamins C, E, B3, B5, B6, B12 and folic acid. It is available in 18-ounce bottles.
Pacific Beverage got in the game by introducing Pacific Chai Reduced Carb Vanilla and Reduced Carb Spice Chai Latté. Offering 4 grams of net carbs per serving, the low-carb varieties of Pacific Chai mixes have no added sugar and less than half the calories of the original versions. The chai mix can be prepared as a hot drink with water, as an iced beverage, or blended with ice.
Spritzer Lights, introduced recently by Knudsen & Sons Inc., Chico, Calif., offers 60 percent fewer carbs (14 grams) and fewer calories than the original R.W. Knudsen Spritzer line. In Tangerine, Mango, Red Raspberry, Black Cherry, and Lemonade flavors, the carbonated drink provides sweetness using LoHan extract. The flavor-infused low-carb/low-calorie spritzer creates a unique natural alternative to sweeter beverages, topping our list as a best new product.
Brown-Forman Wines, Louisville, Ky., shocked the market early this year with a low-carb wine. The One.6 Chardonnay and One.9 Merlot, are just that: 1.6 and 1.9 carbs per 5-ounce glass, respectively. The company also creatively incorporated the numbers into the wine labels.
It was hard to imagine what a carbohydrate-light wine might taste like so we recruited tasters for the task. They weren’t able to detect a difference in the flavor, which was described as having similar characteristics as other Merlot wines.
It was more appealing to our female taster, although both contenders were impressed by the quality of a low-carb wine. In order to create a low-carb wine, Brown-Forman dry fermented and blended the wines, producing a low-carb count as well as maximizing the flavor. Designed for a more mainstream wine-drinking market, the wines are available in retail stores such as Albertson’s, Safeway and Wal-Mart.
Staying on the alcohol-related side of the beverage fence, we can’t pass up the opportunity to recognize Baja Bob’s, San Diego, Calif., for its brightly colored Bar Mixes. The line of low-carb Martini mixes boasts less than 2 carbs per drink due to the inclusion of Splenda as a sweetener. The mix flavors are Cranberry Cosmo, Sour Apple, Luscious Lemon Drop and Blue Raspberry, which can be combined with alcohol or served without.
In the soft drink category, head-to-head battles between Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola are a yearly tradition. No sooner did Pepsi Edge grace the scene than C2, or Coke’s lighter cousin, pummeled the nation. The mid-calorie colas, which featured less sugar, carbohydrates and calories than regular colas, received a lot of buzz initially only to fizzle out during the summer months. But we chose the products because they indicate that the industry is ready to dabble in lighter offerings, and they perhaps forged a category that we’ll see more from in the future.
SMIRNOFF $145,019,680 0.9 %
BACARDI $142,886,864 4.0 %
CAPTAIN MORGAN $91,898,264 13.0 %
JACK DANIELS $89,821,192 7.6 %
JOSE CUERVO $83,194,544 1.0 %
FRANZIA $147,024,352 4.8%
SUTTER HOME $142,690,000 1.2%
WOODBRIDGE $136,311,200 -3.6%
YELLOW TAIL $129,997,808 89.4%
K-J VINTNERS RESERVE $124,172,016 -6.7%
Source: Information Resources Inc., Total U.S. food and drug (supermarkets and drugstores only) for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 31, 2004.
Energy evolution
Rock Star Inc.’s Rock Star Energy Cola, Anheuser-Busch’s BE and Coca-Cola’s Full Throttle reminded us that the energy drink category is as vibrant and competitive as ever. We selected these drinks because they combined the power-packing rush of energy drinks, while adding a twist to keep the category fresh.
Rockstar Energy Cola from Las Vegas-based Rock Start Inc., tested a new market of older adults with a cola behaving as an energy drink – something the company created to appeal to coffee and soft drink consumers looking for caffeine alternatives. It was released earlier this year in 16-ounce cans featuring a red facade and “party like a rockstar” attitude. Loaded with B vitamins and 100 percent of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C, the drink is positioned to pair with food or with spirits, taking the place of more traditional soft drinks.
Charging ahead with a hybrid beer/energy drink combination, Anheuser-Busch this year introduced BE (B-to-the-E). Positioned as a fast-paced lifestyle beverage appealing to highly social, contemporary adults, the beer is infused with caffeine, guarana and ginseng and offers blackberry, raspberry and cherry flavors. We found the beer to be a crowd-pleaser for the college-age consumer. After enlisting two recent graduates to taste the brew. They both liked the “no-beer aftertaste,” which they thought would be appealing to people who don’t like to drink beer. They also liked the added energy-enhancing benefits of a beer/energy drink mix, and plan to serve it during a New Year’s Eve party.
Brewed at Anheuser-Busch’s Houston brewery, BE is packaged in 10-ounce cans and contains 6.6 percent alcohol by volume.
Full Throttle, with ginseng, caffeine, taurine, guarana and B vitamins targets men 20 to 30 years old. The new energy drink is said to taste like citrus-flavored caffeinated-competitor Mountain Dew.
With the low-calorie, low-sugar, low-carb beverage proposition sending droves of consumers to stores,  Sugar-Free SoBe Adrenaline Rush, produced by South Beach Beverage Co., Norwalk, Conn., focuses on two trends highlighted in this year’s best new products review: low-carb and energy drinks. Sugar-Free SoBe Adrenaline Rush receives an honorable mention in our energy evolution drink category.
Top energy DRINKS
RED BULL $144.78 70.8%
ROCKSTAR $20.66 128.2%
MONSTER ENERGY $13.82 215.5%
AMP $13.65 12.3%
SOBE NO FEAR $9.36 260.8%
HANSENS ENERGY $3.27 -9.7%
KMX $2.32 -58.4%
EAS PIRANHA $1.40 92.1%
BLUE OX $1.21 -34.9%
Source: Information Resources Inc., Total U.S. supermarkets, drugstores and mass merchandisers (excluding Wal-Mart) for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 31, 2004.
SUNNY DELIGHT $194,471,216 -6.0%
TAMPICO $98,350,160 -9.7%
MINUTE MAID PREMIUM $79,583,984 -4.5%
WELCHS $68,942,720 0.7%
ODWALLA $31,309,672 20.7%
PRIVATE LABEL $27,799,220 1.7%
TROPICANA $21,309,250 41.5%
BRIGHT & EARLY $6,633,178 1.0%
CHIQUITA $6,615,413 3.2%
Source: Information Resources Inc., Total U.S. supermarkets,
drugstores and mass merchandisers (excluding Wal-Mart) for
the 52 weeks ending Oct. 31, 2004.
Fortified entries
Selecting products for their ingredient make-up was a difficult task since the market for fortified products increases with each day. Focusing on lifestyle, and health and beauty, we whittled down the possibilities to 7 UP Plus, Airforce Nutrisoda, Tropicana’s Pure Premium Essentials line and Minute Maid Heartwise orange juices, Leading Brands’ Soy2O and Silk Live!, produced by White Wave, for this year’s best new fortified entries.  
When 7 UP Plus first came on the market, the pink, mixed-berry soft drink was attracting attention by consumers for not only the taste but also its added vitamins. While the idea has been around for some time, this recent rendition gives American consumers more from their soft drinks. Cadbury Schweppes offered not only a fortified carbonated beverage, but also a low-calorie substitute for regular soda. The Splenda and Ace K-sweetened soft drink was positioned to appeal to both moms and their families, so we had a mother and her two daughters try the new introduction. They liked both the package and the beverage, saying the low-sugar, vitamin-enhanced soft drink was refreshing. And who can deny the allure of a pink soda?
Continuing the trend of fortification in the carbonated beverage arena, Airforce Nutrisoda, produced by Ardea Beverage Co., Eden Prairie, Minn., found its roots in Target stores nationwide, and grocery stores, liquor stores and restaurants in the Midwest. The carbonated mid-calorie drinks initially were designed for people who fly frequently to enable them to perform at their peak performance, according to the company. It recently introduced new packaging, and flavors such as Radiant, a nutrient-enhanced beverage with amino acids, gotu kola and alpha lipoic acid, to build on a trend in beauty-based nutrition. Additionally, its Flex flavor offers glucosamine, chondroitin and amino acids for improved joint mobility.
Tropicana Products Inc., Chicago, is one juice producer tapping into the growing demand for lower-sugar beverages. Concentrating its efforts on developing a juice for people interested in losing weight and monitoring other health conditions, its Pure Premium Essentials line addresses a number of concerns such as cardiovascular disease, immune deficiency and sensitive stomachs. Tropicana Pure Premium Healthy Heart offers six vitamins and minerals that promote cardiovascular health, and Tropicana Pure Premium Immunity Defense is fortified with antioxidants to protect body cells. And the company did not stop with adult-targeted juice alternatives. Its Healthy Kids juice offers a kid-friendly taste with added vitamins and FruitCal calcium. It’s the focus on variety and health that puts Tropicana’s Pure Premium Essentials line among the best new fortified products available.
Another introduction in the juice category that we pulled as a best new product is Minute Maid Premium Heart Wise orange juice with Coro-Wise plant sterols, which have been proven to help lower cholesterol. The brand’s commitment to lowering total cholesterol was confirmed in a major medical center study finding participants significantly lowered their LDL cholesterol by drinking two 8-ounce servings of Minute Maid Premium Heart Wise orange juice daily with meals for eight weeks.
Soy and whey proteins are becoming increasingly included in beverages for protein enhancement and cholesterol-lowering properties. When Soy2O hit the market, not only was it a unique blueberry-flavored soy beverage, but it also proved soy could be used in clear beverages. Vancouver, British Columbia-based Leading Brands initially launched the unique blend of fruit-flavored water and soy isoflavones in the United States in four flavors: Blueberry Grape, Peach Mango, Strawberry Guava and Lemon Green Tea.
Showing that soymilk could taste good and be nutrient packed, White Wave Inc. introduced Silk Live!, a soymilk smoothie in four fruit and berry flavors spiked with six live and active cultures that aid healthy digestion. In addition to 19 essential nutrients, the smoothie line offers calcium, magnesium, folic acid, potassium and vitamins A, B, C, D and E, and 280 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per 10-ounce serving. Additionally, Fructan NutraFlora, a natural dietary fiber, was added to help the absorption of calcium and magnesium.
A young urban couple tasted the smoothie line for us and were intrigued by the idea of a portable, healthy option, and pleasantly surprised by the mostly, true-to-the-fruit flavors of Silk Live!.  
Exotic flavor additions
Exotic flavors are hot. Whether to appeal to a Hispanic audience with homeland favorites such as dulce de leche or island-grown fruits such as coconut and mango, the beverage scene has been inundated with flavors from all over the world. We picked up on pomegranate awhile back, but it continues to be a favorite. Passion fruit and chai are also driving flavor innovation among beverage producers.
At the top our list for beverages that stepped out in fashionable flavors are Jammin! Nectars Pure Passion produced by Food Collage, Celestial Seasonings innovatively spiced red, black and white tea combinations, Dutch Voyant Chai Liqueur and sensation-creating Fair Warning, produced by Brain Twist.
Food Collage Inc., Sterling, Va., introduced Jammin! Nectars Pure Passion nectar made with passion fruit puree, evaporated cane juice, lemon juice concentrate and exotic spices. Its other flavors in the line of nectars include Guanabana Limbo, made with guanabana puree, and Mambo Mango. Beverage Industry tasters concurred with the Savor Virginia Food and Beverage Show in Richmond, Va., finding it to be one of the best new beverages of the year.
Celestial Seasonings piqued our interest in the world of tea with a number of exotic flavors recently introduced by the Boulder, Colo.-based tea-maker. Moroccan Pomegranate Red Tea tops our list of teas with spice. Producing not only an exotic crimson color when steeped, but also a tangy flavor, the drink highlights the growing popularity of rooibos, or red, teas. And the company didn’t stop innovating there. Adding Indian as well as other far-reaching spices to its tea formulas, its more recent Honey Vanilla White Tea Chai, takes Chai to a whole new level. Made in Holland, Voyant Chai Liqueur is a combination of rum, Dutch cream, black tea, premium spirits and spices. Debuting in time for holiday party toasting and ski-slope warm-ups, it is recommended served hot or added to coffee or tea. The handcrafted 750-ml. bottle offers a unique one-sided rolling-pin shape in an orange hue for added allure.
Fusing exotic fruit flavors with a “sensation drink” concept, Fair Warning, produced by Brain Twist Inc., New York City, creates a tingly hot or cool sensation when you drink it. The beverage, introduced at the National Association of Convenience Stores trade show this fall, is available in Kiwi Apple, with a twist of peppermint; Berry Lemon, with a twist of mojito mint; and Heat, which offers a twist of cinnamon, in 12-ounce aluminum cans. Hot or cold temperature-inducing beverages are an interesting direction for drink manufacturers as consumers look for more innovation and even interaction in the beverage aisle or bar.
Flavor trends in 2004
Flavor No. of Reports2004/2003
Banana 38/33
Citrus 60/53
Green Apple 12/3
Guava 19/12
Lemonade 29/18
Lime 55/50
Mango 67/53
Nut 11/4
Pear 24/18
Pomegranate 8/5
Tropical 51/33
Vanilla 133/130
Wildberry 9/5
Source: Productscan Online, 2004.
Flavor No. of Reports2004/2003
Banana 38/33
Citrus 60/53
Green Apple 12/3
Guava 19/12
Lemonade 29/18
Lime 55/50
Mango 67/53
Nut 11/4
Pear 24/18
Pomegranate 8/5
Tropical 51/33
Vanilla 133/130
Wildberry 9/5
Source: Productscan Online, 2004.
Limited-edition arrivals
Once reserved for beers and spirits, limited-edition beverage varieties are cropping up in a number of other beverage categories such as soft drinks and wine coolers. Pepsi-Cola currently reigns as the limited-release king. We selected Mountain Dew Pitch Black and Pepsi Holiday Spice for innovation in short-term product introductions. Following this trend is Seagram’s Winter Berry Breeze, one of the company’s cooler flavors banking on seasonal success.
Mountain Dew and Pepsi varieties hit stores in time for the holiday rush, beginning with Halloween this year. Mountain Dew Pitch Black graced shelves in October with its blast of black grape flavor and spooky color. Following in the steps of Mountain Dew LiveWire, Pitch Black’s summer comrade, the soft drink appeared in stores for 10 weeks, capitalizing on the pre-Halloween mayhem.
Pepsi Holiday Spice, featuring a spicy finish of ginger and cinnamon, is on the market through the end of December as a seasonal treat for soft drink connoisseurs. Nostalgic packaging, in addition to flavors reminiscent of cookies or cakes traditionally served during this time of year, give the cola a prime spot in the limited- edition category.  
But it’s not only soft drinks that discovered the power of short-term product introductions this year. United States Beverage LLC, has launched Seagram’s Winter Berry Breeze, a cranberry and apple-flavored wine cooler. The new malt beverage is being introduced in conjunction with a packaging facelift to commemorate the company’s 20th anniversary. Available from October to January, the drink is part of its Cooler Escapes line geared toward suburban and rural women ages 25 to 54. BI
ARIZONA $139,634,992 41.0%
SNAPPLE $89,402,712 4.6%
LIPTON BRISK TEA $86,156,704 -10.6%
DIET SNAPPLE $75,157,984 10.7%
NESTEA COOL $63,722,900 -11.1%
  FRAPPUCCINO $127,615,344 14.7%
DOUBLESHOT $16,138,594 23.9%
KAHLUA $826,464 137.5%
WOLFGANG PUCK $544,971 1,178.2%
Source: Information Resources Inc., Total U.S. supermarkets, drugstores and mass merchandisers (excluding Wal-Mart) for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 31, 2004.
BEER $8,436.91 0.6%
BUD LIGHT $1,305.05 0.5%
BUDWEISER $869.28 -6.5%
MILLER LITE $669.05 13.8%
COORS LIGHT $568.85 -2.6%
CORONA EXTRA $409.32 -0.0%
MALTERNATIVES $349,115 0.2%
SMIRNOFF ICE $63,889 -32.0%
MIKE’S HARD LEMONADE $39,761 -15.1%
Source: Information Resources Inc., Total U.S. food and drug (supermarkets and drugstores only) for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 31, 2004.