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Premium carbonated drinks pour into market

BY Barbara White-Sax

Undaunted by flat carbonated beverage sales, premium soda manufacturers are bringing a steady stream of new products to market.

YEAR SALES*
2008 $1.01
2009 1.02
2010** 1.01
*In billions**52 weeks ended Aug. 8 Source: Infoscan Reviews, SymphonyIRI Group

“There’s definitely movement in this segment. There’s been a deluge of products, and we’ve been watching it closely,” said Melissa Abbott, trends and culinary insights manager at the Hartman Group. Abbott believed the spike in interest in niche carbonated beverages is fueled by consumers’ desire for higher-quality foods that are “premium, but attainable.” She also believed consumers are willing to spend a bit more for those products. “Consumers don’t view these beverages as a commodity. They are a treat, like a substitution for a candy bar,” she said.

Such premium soda brands as Boylan’s and Jones Soda have occupied this small niche for years, but have seen a surge in popularity. More brands—Fruit 66, Hot Lips and Kristall, to name a few—are more recent entries. “We’re seeing wider distribution from small labels,” Abbott said. “It’s exciting to see what’s going to happen here.”

Private-label brands also have moved into the segment. Walgreens has introduced Deerfield Trading’s Old Fashioned Soda with real cane sugar in such flavors as root beer and strawberry cream, and the company’s Duane Reade stores stock DR Delish sparkling beverages in pomegranate and blood orange, among other flavors.

Nontraditional flavors are a driver in the category. “We get excited about developing the next flavor,” said David Yudkin, co-owner of Hot Lips Soda. He believed pulp in the bottle is “new and will drive the category” going forward.

This spring, R.W. Knudsen introduced Sparkling Essence, a zero-calorie beverage made with sparkling water infused with organic ingredients in four light, natural flavors: lemon, cucumber, mint and blueberry. Knudsen also recently reformulated and repackaged its Spritzers, made from fruit juice and sparkling water in such flavors as Jamaican lemonade, peach and boysenberry. In an effort to shave calories from each serving, the company reduced juice content from 100% to 70%-to-80% juice and changed packaging from a 12-oz. can to a sleek 10.5-oz. can. The Spritzers are sold for about $3.79 for a four pack.

Jones has done well with its quirky, limited-edition flavors—its newest addition is a bacon-flavored soda. The company’s limited-edition six packs have been featured at Target for Halloween.

While more premium soda brands continue to enter the market, industry experts were quick to note that the segment remains small. “The industry is dominated by Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper Snapple Group,” said John Sicher, editor of Beverage Digest. “There’s always room for niche players, and they will always be niche players.”

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Schuster Products candy wins award at ECRM event

BY Allison Cerra

MILWAUKEE Schuster Products’ newest candy received an award at ECRM’s 2010 annual candy planning session.

The Sour Face Twisters Silly Swirl Ginormous Sour Bubble Gum Stik took second place in the kid’s candy choice awards at the ECRM event.

Schuster Products is based in Milwaukee.

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P&G recognizes agency, supplier partners

BY Allison Cerra

CINCINNATI Procter & Gamble honored its top performing external business partners at its supplier and agency summit on Thursday.

P&G’s annual summit recognizes and celebrates those key contributors who have demonstrated partner excellence. Bob McDonald, P&G’s chairman, president and CEO, said that the company’s partnerships with business partners and retail customers "are built upon the fundamental idea of improving lives."

 

Six-out-of-80,000 P&G suppliers were named "supplier of the year" at the summit’s awards ceremony. They included:

  • Havpak;
  • Hayco Ltd.;
  • Nelson Packaging Co.;
  • Novozymes; and
  • Pegas Nonwovens.

In addition to the supplier of the year awards, 76 external business partners received the distinction of excellence. Those partners that received the excellence award included such companies as Albany International, Bonsey Design, CCG Marketing Solutions, Diamond Packaging, Ernst & Young and more.

 

"We view our suppliers, agencies and external business partners as an extension of our company and critical to helping us achieve our company’s purpose of touching and improving the lives of the world’s consumers," said Rick Hughes, chief purchasing officer at P&G. "We expect the best from our business partners, and we are focused on growing long-term relationships that are sustainable, innovative and create joint value."

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