It’s amazing how much can change in a year’s time. As our staff began compiling Beverage Industry’s list of the Top 100 beverage companies (page 24), I realized the magnitude of changes that have taken place in the beverage realm within the last year. The industry has seen a number of acquisitions, expansions into new categories, and the growth of emerging categories such as liquid concentrates, hard ciders and frozen cocktails in pouches.

For instance, Kraft Foods Group Inc. launched Kool-Aid Liquid, Crystal Light Liquid and Mio Fit drink mixes all within the last six months.

When Beverage Industry covered Mike’s Hard Lemonade Co. in its Up Close With section in April 2012, the company discussed its newest innovations including its naturally sweetened Mike’s Lite Hard Lemonade as well as Mike’s On the Rocks mixed drinks. One year later, the company has pushed the boundaries even further, expanding its portfolio by entering the beer, hard cider and frozen cocktails in pouches segments.

 Making up 43 percent of the flavored malt beverage market in the summer of 2012, according to Information Resources Inc. (IRI), Mike’s Hard Lemonade is prepped for summer 2013 with new offerings, including Mike’s Hard Smashed Apple Cider, Mike’s Hard Lemonade Frozen, and Mike’s Authentic Shandy Hard Lemonade and Lager. “Mike’s is synonymous with innovation and an unrelenting drive to create best-in-class products,” said Kevin Kotecki, president of Mike’s Hard Lemonade Co., in a statement. “We are constantly looking for new ways to delight consumers and satisfy their ever-evolving tastes across many different drinking occasions.”