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Nestea announces new packaging, products

BY Jenna Duncan

ATLANTA Nestea has given its line of iced tea products a new look and its green tea citrus and diet green tea citrus teas now have the power of 50 percent more antioxidants than before, the company said yesterday,

To stay competitive in the growing ready-to-drink tea segment, Nestea revamped its green tea citrus and diet green tea citrus teas to now contain 96 milligrams of flavonoid antioxidants per eight ounces.

Independent research, the company said, shows that the RTD tea category was up in sales by 24 percent last year, and green tea sales, specifically, provided two-thirds of that category’s growth.

Nestea said the growth in retail sales, plus increased consumer education about the health benefits of tea, were the reasons for its recent launch.

“With over 50 years of brand equity and consumer trust, our products blend the natural goodness of tea with natural fruit flavors to offer consumers a refreshing experience to immediately revitalize their day,” Coca-Cola North America’s senior vice president/general manager of coffee and tea, Penny McIntyre, said. “We have reinvigorated the brand with a new look and new green tea formulations—with superior taste and more antioxidants to appeal to consumers seeking a delicious green tea.”

The newly packaged Nestea flavors are available nationwide at convenience stores, drug stores, retailers and supermarkets.

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Tootsie Roll maintains independence during times of consolidation

BY Jenna Duncan

CHICAGO The news of the pending sale of Wrigley to Mars this week has left speculators scanning the market for other independent confectioners who have withstood looming threats of consolidation. But one American candy industry stalwart, Tootsie Roll, seems to have no plans to sell any time soon.

Family-owned and led by 88-year-old chief executive officer Melvin Gordon and his wife, 76-year-old president Ellen Gordon, have been mum with their shareholders on the topic of selling.

Many shareholders, and even he company’s stock analyst, have indicated that they thought a sale such as the transaction that put Wrigley in the hands of Mars would be the best thing for Tootsie Roll. Some believe that leadership by an industry giant might help grow distribution and sales and keep the candy company afloat in a rough economy—especially in overseas markets where growth is projected.

Tootsie Roll reported that its profit fell by 22 percent last year and its first quarter of 2008 was even worse. The company said that it is suffering from the soaring costs of ingredients.

But despite its losses, the company has been moot on the topic of potential buyers and its current leadership appears to be firmly in place.

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Eagle Snacks may see a comeback

BY Jenna Duncan

CHICAGO Reserve Brands, a small Chicago-based start-up, has obtained the exclusive license to market Eagle Snacks, a brand whose familiarity is known by retailers and consumers across the country.

But what many consumers do not realize is that Eagle Snacks are not currently on the market, and haven’t been since Eagle was purchased from Anheuser-Busch by Procter & Gamble in 1996. Though the brand name is still easily recognized, its line of snacks hasn’t been in production for some time. The fact that Eagle’s absence has seemingly gone unnoticed might actually be a great “comeback” strategy for the brand, Reserve said. It plans to reintroduce Eagle Snacks to grocery and retail shelves later this year.

“When people say, ‘I didn’t even realize you can’t buy Eagle Snacks any more,’ you know you’ve got a business opportunity,” Reserve Brands president and chief executive, Scott Lazar, said.

Many consumers remember Eagle as the first brand to have snack nuts on airplanes, company spokespersons said. The name recognition will be a good thing, they said, for the company to introduce new products. Eagle plans to roll out two new product lines into Chicago-area Dominick’s stores later this year; Eagle Bursts and Poppers.

Reserve Brands’ goal is to reach $50 million in sales in its first year and to reach $100 million in sales in the next two to three years. After that, the company said, it plans to sell to a bigger player.

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