Post-Show Report

Change of venue doesn’t dampen NACS attendance
Beverage companies were out in full force at the National Association of Convenience Stores Show, held in Las Vegas last month, despite a last-minute change in location due to Hurricane Katrina. NACS reports final attendance was 22,350, and with 372,800 net square feet of exhibition space, the show floor was the second-largest ever. A total of 1,382 companies exhibited, including 358 new companies.
A number of beverage-makers used the occasion to make their product debuts, including The Coca-Cola Co. The company announced an expanded energy drink portfolio with Advance by Powerade, Tab Energy, and Full Throttle Fury. Advance by Powerade is a hybrid energy/sports drink beverage that combines B vitamins and electrolytes with taurine and caffeine. Tab Energy brings one of the company’s most iconic diet brands into the modern age with energy ingredients and a new flavor. Marketed specifically to women, the product is packaged in pink slim cans. Full Throttle Fury, available in regular and sugar-free versions, is a more traditional take on energy drinks, with a citrus flavor. In addition, Coca-Cola debuted Coca-Cola Black Cherry Vanilla and Diet Coke Black Cherry Vanilla, as well as Dasani Sensations, a flavored sparkling water sweetened with Splenda.
Ranking near the top of all the beverages on display at the show were energy drinks. Kabbalah Energy Drink, available in regular and sugar-free varieties, builds on the Kabbalah craze made popular by Madonna, Demi Moore and the like. The citrus-flavored drink contains taurine and B vitamins, and is “infused with Kabalah Water.”
The makers of Kronik Energy Drink say they formulated their product to have a more pleasant flavor than most energy drinks, along with a unique blue color. The low-carb version of the drink is said to contain a “supplemental compound to provide a thermogenic response, coupled with appetite suppression.”
Elite FX Inc., Delray Beach, Fla., demonstrated the metabolism-boosting effects of its Celsius soft drink at the show. The product claims to raise the body’s calorie-burning power by 12 percent over a three-hour period, and attendees had the opportunity to test the effects for themselves. Celsius contains ingredients such as green tea with EGCG, ginger and caffeine, and is available in Cola, Lemon-Lime and Ginger Ale flavors.
Ronin LLC introduced its Ronin energy drink with the tagline “Positive Liquid Synergy.” Available in regular and diet versions, the “synergy drink” is packaged in 16-ounce cans, 3-gallon bag-in-box, and a “Frozen Warrior” version. The company says Ronin has been ORAC tested to have the antioxidant capacity of 1 serving of fruit or vegetable per can.
For organic-minded consumers, BevSpec Inc., Austin, Texas, showed off its Syzmo Energy, made with blue agave as sweetener and only 90 calories per can. The product also contains vitamins and Co-Q10, and is packaged in 8.4-ounce single cans, four-packs and 12-can Fridge Packs.
National Beverage Corp., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., teamed with world champion mogul skier Jeremy Bloom to pitch its Rip It and Rip It Sugar Free energy drinks. The Olympic hopeful will be featured in consumer and retail marketing, and will wear the Rip It logo on his ski helmet. The company also added powdered versions of Rip It to be mixed with 16-ounce bottles of water. In regular and sugar-free Citrus varieties, the tiny tubes can be merchandised in a 24-pack display carton and three-tube blister pack counter hanger.
PepsiCo’s South Beach Beverage Co. announced a new 16-ounce “Tall Boy” package for its Amp energy drink after testing it on the West Coast. The package will roll out nationally in March.
The Beast Energy Drink discussed its sponsorship with Next Level Global’s National Rap Battle as a way to gain exposure. The 12-week national Rap Battle tour will begin in February in Manhattan and end with a recording contract for a lucky musician.
Also in energy drinks, Hobarama LLC introduced a frozen version of its Bawls Guarana with SnoBawls. The frozen drink is alcohol-free and carbonated. Power Drinks, Miami, Fla., reported that its Extreme Energy Drink will soon be found in Wal-Mart stores throughout the southeastern United States. And calling it a “Margarita in a Can,” the Tornado Energy Drink from Tornado Drinks LLC has a lime flavor as well as B vitamins, taurine, guarana and caffeine.
Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson joined the Firefighter team at NACS to autograph EMS Hydro bottles. EMS Hydro contains vitamins, l-arginine, l-carnitine and l-glutamine, and the special-edition bottles featured at the show include a photo of Jackson in full firefighter gear. Twenty-five percent of Firefighter Brand’s profits are donated to firefighter causes.
A product deemed a “Cool New Product” by NACS was Frappio, a coffee-based energy latte described as having a “Turkish/Sumatran” flavor profile. The product contains ashwangandha as an energy ingredient, and Frappio-maker Caffe Del Mar claims it reduces stress, curbs hunger and the desire for fatty or sweet foods.
Shock Coffee gave attendees another coffee/energy boost, with its Shock Latte, Shock Mocha, Triple Latte and Triple Mocha. The coffee and milk blended drinks are packaged in 8-ounce cans, and as the names imply, the Triple versions contain three times the caffeine as the regular coffee drinks.
Starbucks and Pepsi expanded their coffee partnership with three new products announced at the show. Starbucks Doubleshot Light Espresso & Cream offers half the calories, two-thirds less sugar and one-third less fat than the original product, and will hit the market in February. Starbucks Iced Coffee, packaged in a 12-ounce can, contains a touch of milk and sugar, and will roll out in April, as will Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino, a non-coffee product that takes the in-store success of the Frappuccino Crème line to the ready-to-drink aisle.
Barnie’s Coffee & Tea Co. touted its Double Vanilla Coffee Cooler in a new plastic retort bottle. The product is 100-percent Arabica coffee blended with milk.
Nestle announced its plan to rotate a series of limited-edition Nesquik MilkShake flavors in 2006, beginning in February with Cookies ‘n Milk. And Bravo! Foods International debuted Bravo Breakfast Blenders in Vanilla Peach, Chocolate Raspberry, Double French Vanilla and Double Chocolate flavors. Packaged in 10-ounce bottles, the products are 100-percent lactose-free milk and are fortified with 50 percent more protein. Breakfast Blenders are aseptically filled for a six-month shelf life.
North American Beverage showed off its new Mega Moose Strawberry Blast dairy-based energy shake. With a strawberries and cream flavor, the product is 98 percent fat free and 98 percent cholesterol free.
The Campbell Soup Co. launched V8 V Fusion, said to provide a full serving of fruit and a full serving of vegetables in each 8-ounce serving. The product is 100-percent juice, has no added sugar and provides vitamins A, C and E. V8 V Fusion will hit the market in January in Strawberry Banana, Peach Mango and Tropical Orange flavors, packaged in 12-ounce and 46-ounce sizes.
Ocean Spray rolled out its newest innovation, Diet Ocean Spray juices in Orange Citrus Spray and Cranberry Spray flavors. Sweetened with Splenda and Ace-K, the products contain 5 calories per 8-ounce serving, and are packaged in 16-ounce single-serve bottles.
Country Pure Foods displayed its Natural Country juice coolers for convenience stores and foodservice environments. The open-top chiller keeps juice cold without ice or Freon, and holds 16 8-ounce micro-packs in a minimal amount of counter space.
Sunny Delight Beverages showcased its Sunny Delight Baja and Intense Sport drinks in shelf-stable 12-ounce packaging, as well as its 16-ounce shelf-stable packages set to make their first shipment in February. The products will be available in Orange Fused Mango, Orange, Orange Fused Strawberry, Orange Fused Peach and Fruit Punch flavors.
Pepsi’s SoBe used the occasion to unveil new bottle graphics, said to be a year in the making. The company’s in-house design team collaborated with Mclean Design in California and JDK in Vermont, as well as Attik and illustrator Frasor Irving, both based in the United Kingdom. The new look maintains the well-known 20-ounce bottle but creates an updated billboard effect.
Brain Twist gave attendees a look at its new Defense Vitamin & Mineral Supplement, designed to maintain a healthy immune system. The innovative can developed by Ball Corp. features the FreshCan Wedge that holds dry functional ingredients such as zinc, pectin, vitamin A, B2, C, E and calcium separate from the beverage until the can is opened. This prevents the ingredients from being damaged by processing or time on the shelf.
Natural Precepts, Winnsboro, La., featured its YES (Your Essential Source) beverage with 12 vitamins, 70 trace minerals, eight herbs, eight antioxidant sources, 22 amino acids and three essential fatty acids. The company says the liquid format makes the nutrients in YES 75 percent bioavailable.
On the enhanced water front, NVE Pharmaceuticals, Andover, N.J., rollout out Stacker 2 Protein Water with 20 grams of whey protein and zero sugar. The product is available in Grape, Pink Lemonade and Sour Apple flavors. The company also rolled out Stacker 2 Dieter’s Water designed to speed the metabolism and burn body fat. The product is available in Pomegranate, Mango Guava, Strawberry Banana and Kiwi Lime flavors.
Wild Waters Inc., Hingham, Mass., had kids in mind when it developed Wild Waters flavored waters. The products are fortified with calcium, zinc, magnesium, fiber, potassium and vitamins A and C, and are packaged in 10-ounce PET with a sport cap. They are available in Flippin’ Fruit Punch, Twistin’ Tropical Punch, Kickin’ Green Apple, Rippin’ Raz Lemonade, Groovin’ Grape and Rockin’ Red Cherry varieties.
Glaceau introduced Vitaminwater Focus with lutein for healthy eyes. According to the company, lutein protects eyesight by providing a natural defense against UVA rays and protects against macular degeneration.
The innovators at Nestle Waters North America have been hard at work developing several new items such as the 700-ml. sport bottle with a built-in grip and a flip-top cap with splash guard. The package will replace the current 24-ounce sport bottle. Kid-safe 8-ounce bottles were showcased for their new caps that twist open rather than twist off, and the company debuted the Aquapod, a bubble-shaped bottle for kids six and older. The interactive shape is designed to encourage kids to drink more water.
Replacing the 1-gallon PET bottle, Nestle Waters introduced a 3-liter bottle with ergonomic grip for easy pouring. The bottle has a resealable twist cap and is designed to be stackable on pallets and displays.
The company also featured its Nestle Pure Life Splash flavors in Strawberry Splash, Lemon Splash, Raspberry Splash and Orange Splash. And it highlighted its Super C Calcium and Super C Energy powder sticks meant to be mixed with bottled water. Super C Energy comes in Orange and Lemon Lime flavors and contains Vitamins B and C. Super C Calcium is available in Berry and Peach flavors and contains 25 percent of the daily value for calcium.
On the hot beverage side, the Coffee Beanery, Flushing, Mich., was on hand to entice c-store operators to develop franchise agreements. The Coffee Beanery offers a wide variety of flavors as well as coffee merchandise, and the company says it has concepts that are ideal for high-traffic, high-visibility locations. BI