Creating a new beverage presents myriad challenges. According to Chicago-based Mintel’s Global New Products Database, 3,142 new beverages were released in the United States from January to October 2015. With so many new products in the market, creating one that stands out from the rest can be difficult. Consumers always are searching for something new and healthful from consumer packaged goods (CPGs). Although this can be difficult, some brands have carved their own niche on beverage shelves this year.
The editors of Beverage Industry analyzed the new beverage launches throughout 2015 and selected five brands they think are driving innovation — and energizing consumers — within the U.S. beverage market. The following are Beverage Industry’s selections for the 2015 Innovations of the Year:
Dr. Jekyll’s Organic Craft Beers
When analyzing the CPG market, it seems as though consumers want everything from their purchases. In some categories, this has been easily accommodated. However, in the beer category, few products typically offer the range of benefits that consumers are looking for.
While at a poolside barbecue, Tom Costa, president and chief executive officer of Altadena, Calif.-based Dr. Jekyll’s Organic Craft Beers, a brand of Nutraceutical Brews for Life Inc., was hit with an idea. His best friend from high school, an all-natural body builder, asked him, “You know most everyone in the world drinks beer, what if you could get an added health benefit from it?” From there, Costa went on to develop a beer brand that reflected what he looked for in other CPGs, but had not found in beer.
“I thought of brands I admired that made me feel good when buying them,” he says. “They are organic, environmentally conscious and they give back to society. That’s what I wanted Dr. Jekyll’s to be. A great tasting, unique product that made people feel good. We like to think of Dr. Jekyll’s as ‘Beer that benefits’ as we benefit the body by being organic and brewing with superfoods, society by giving back to charities and the environment by using environmentally friendly packaging.”
In July, Dr. Jekyll’s Craft Brewery debuted its line of organic craft beers with superfood ingredients. The brewery teamed with biotechnology firm Virun, Walnut, Calif., to develop a process for brewing superfoods and essential nutrients into its beer.
The line currently is available at Whole Foods Market, Cost Plus World Market, Total Wine & More, other specialty retailers and select bars, pubs and restaurants in 12- and 22- ounce bottles in select markets and online. The line features three varieties that are all vegan and non-GMO: Bio Beer, Beer Attack and Beer Belly.
According to Costa, in addition to expanding distribution within the next year, the company will release a Hyde line of beers. “Everyone has a dual personality at times — the good, well-mannered ‘Dr. Jekyll’s’ side, and their crass, dark, almost evil ‘Mr. Hyde’ side,” he says. “As such, our Hyde line of beers will show Mr. Hyde in the branding and on the bottle and appeal to folks who just don’t care about being organic, non-GMO, vegan friendly; they just want a great tasting, bold, higher octane brew to go with their bacon double cheeseburger with fries and wings. That’s Mr. Hyde, and we all feel like Mr. Hyde at times.”
Maxwell House Iced Coffee Concentrates
Although iced coffee has yet to make a notable impact on coffee sales, the trend still is garnering attention. After the success of its Mio water enhancers, Kraft Foods Group Inc., Northfield, Ill., took note of the on-the-go consumers’ need for a jolt of iced java. In February, its Maxwell House brand released its Iced Coffee Concentrates.
“The concept of a ‘coffee break’ seems almost old-fashioned for the 24-7 lifestyle many now lead, so Maxwell House is likewise adapting,” said Chris McClement, senior director of Maxwell House, in a statement when the products were released. “Maxwell House Iced Coffee Concentrates put a new spin on the traditional iced coffee experience by providing a quick, instantly gratifying beverage at a fraction of the cost of typical coffee house offerings.”
The concentrates are available in three flavors: House Blend, Caramel and Vanilla. Each 1.62-ounce bottle yields 10 servings. They are available in grocery and mass merchandise retail locations nationwide for a suggested retail price of $3.99.
“With the explosive growth in this category over the last year, we know Americans are becoming very passionate about their iced coffee,” added Becky McAninch, senior director of Kraft Beverage Innovation, in a statement. “But we also know that iced coffee can be difficult to brew at home, and not everyone has time to whip up a batch in the middle of the day. With Iced Coffee Concentrates, Maxwell House offers coffee enthusiasts a simple and satisfying way to recharge while on the move.”
In 2011, Kraft pioneered the liquid concentrate category with the launch of Mio. Since then, several Kraft brands have introduced water enhancer products, and Mio has expanded to feature added benefits.
The dairy and dairy alternative market continues to grow. As dairy alternatives continue to grab more market share, Silk, a brand of White Wave Foods, Broomfield, Colo., continues to innovate with new plant-based dairy alternatives.
Noting the potential of non-traditional dairy alternatives, Silk launched a line of Cashewmilks, which are available in four flavors: Silk Original Cashewmilk, Silk Unsweetened Cashewmilk, Silk Vanilla Cashewmilk and Silk Chocolate Cashewmilk.
The cashew-based beverage is free of cholesterol, lactose, dairy, soy and gluten. According to the company, the launch represents the release of the first Cashewmilk in the refrigerated case and is a continuation of its commitment to bringing a variety of plant-based products to consumers.
“Silk Cashewmilk has gained the fastest distribution of any new product in Silk history, proving that consumers continue to seek plant-based beverage options,” said Craig Shiesley, the brands’ president, in a statement. “Silk Cashewmilk provides another alternative to dairy milk and offers a smooth, creamy taste combined with calcium and vitamin D consumers are looking for today.”
All four flavors are available in grocery stores nationwide in half-gallon sizes that have a suggested retail price of $3.49.
Inspired by the gazpacho soup he tried while living in Spain, founder Austin Allan launched Tio Gazpacho, a brand of Tio Foods LLC, Miami. The line of gazpacho beverages features a traditional gazpacho recipe offering a creamy and savory texture and is offered in three varieties: Gazpacho Clasico, Gazpacho Verde and Gazpacho de Sol.
According to Allan, the biggest challenge he faced with the brand was maintaining the flavor of fresh gazpacho without preservatives or pasteurization, which is why the product uses high-pressure processing (HPP).
“Consumers can sometimes be skeptical because there is a lot of bad gazpacho in restaurants in the United States,” he says. “But once they tried Tio — made with only fresh, organic ingredients — they are hooked.”
Tio Gazpacho is available in 12-ounce PET bottles for a suggested retail price of $8.99 in more than 200 retailers in the northeastern United States. Expanded distribution within these regions and into the southeast United States is planned for spring 2016, with distribution to the West Coast by late 2016, Allan says.
A new variety also is part of the brand’s future plans. Gazpacho Rosado, a watermelon gazpacho, will launch in early 2016, according to Allan. The new flavor includes watermelon, tomato, cucumber, cilantro and cayenne pepper.
“We are also in the preliminary stages of developing an entirely new line of products to launch at the end of next year,” Allan notes.
Although some beverages add on-the-go convenience, spirits’ brands also have begun to offer an ease-of-use convenience that consumers want. Minneapolis-based Phillips Distilling Co.’s UV brand released UV Sangria, a Sangria-flavored vodka that offers the flavors of sangria, with the convenience of simple mixing. According to the company, the Sangria category has seen double-digit growth for the last several years as consumers have become more familiar with the Spanish drink.
“UV Vodka is known for launching first-to-market flavored vodkas that are in line with current trends and consumer demand,” said Jason Connelly, vice president of sales at Phillips Distilling Co., in a statement. “With the rapid growth and increasing popularity of Sangria, the timing was perfectly aligned for the brand to introduce UV Sangria, making it easier for both consumers and bartenders to create Sangria cocktails.”
Distilled four times, UV Sangria offers a blend of citrus with a light zest in the background, finishing with an exotic character that lingers slightly on the palate, the company says.
“UV Sangria was an interesting product to make,” says Marla Burke, marketing and creative director at Phillips Distilling Co. “The biggest challenge was to make it a flavored vodka, but still have the flavors of a traditional Sangria.”
According to Burke, consumers have widely accepted the infused-wine-flavored vodka. “Consumers love it for the ease-of-use versus making a traditional Sangria, it’s a simple one-to-two solution. ...Retailers as well have loved merchandising the product with pitchers and easy alternatives to multi-ingredient cocktails,” she says.
Although the product originally was marketed as a summer cocktail, the company has transitioned the product into the fall and winter seasons with cocktail recipes catering to the holidays and entertaining.
The 30 percent alcohol by volume vodka is available nationally in 50- and 750-ml bottles for $0.99 and $12.99, respectively.