Ray Latif

Ray Latif

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Ray is the founder, executive producer and head writer of French Oak, an online television show that gives viewers comprehensive insight into the beer, wine and spirits scene in the Boston area. A graduate of Boston University’s School of Management, Ray has also run a consulting practice on behalf of private scholarship foundations in Greater Boston for nearly a decade.

Posts by Ray Latif

Fresh Funding: Spindrift Lands Over $2 Million in New Investment Round

With sales of big soda brands in a sustained freefall, it’s a fair guess that most would be wary of new investment in the carbonated beverage category. Yet where some see a perilous position for soda, some see opportunity, particularly when it comes to innovative brands. It’s that line of thinking that has garnered Spindrift, which produces a line of premium-positioned sodas and seltzers made with fresh juice and purées, a new round of funding worth over $2 million.

PepsiCo Eyes Summer Launch for New “Real Sugar” Colas

Marketed and packaged as being “made with real sugar,” the beverages, to be released this summer, will come in regular, vanilla and wild cherry flavors. Labeled with the nostalgic PepsiCo logo, the products appear to be taking the place of the PepsiCo’s popular “Throwback” sodas, which included limited-edition, sugar-sweetened versions of its flagship cola and Mountain Dew

Can’t We All Just… Chill?

Because formulations are not easily understood, the term “relaxation” is one that consumers define for themselves, independent of ingredients — creating meanings that are often at odds with how brands position and market their products. .

Milk Takes Center Stage in New Cytosport Lawsuit

Muscle Milk beverages and powders contain no actual milk, and Cytosport, which markets the brand, has been deceiving consumers for years. That’s the chief allegation in a new lawsuit filed against Cytosport, according to Law360.com, and comes nearly three years after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned the company that its marketing and labels might mislead consumers.

Honest Tea Reaches $112m in 2013 Sales; Logo Gets Refresh(er)

Everyone knows that a rolling stone gathers no moss. Yet for Honest Tea, which has been rolling in its own right, the company has had no trouble picking up a different kind of green: cold hard cash. The Coca-Cola Co.-owned tea and juice outfit racked up $112 million in sales last year and is positioning itself for similar growth in 2014 amid the launch of a new multi-serve “Refresher” line and a logo evolution that will gradually roll out across all Honest product lines.

Everyone’s Looking for the Big Squeeze

Prior to the launch of MiO, the term “liquid water enhancer” didn’t exist in the consumer parlance, and Kraft executives knew that it would take an exceptional marketing strategy — and a bundle of cash — to adequately support the rollout. So how did the company take MiO, a first-of-its-kind product with zero awareness, to a brand that, three years later, is leading a category worth over $400 million?

Kobe Bryant Invests in BodyArmor

The NBA’s Black Mamba may be winding down his basketball career, but when it comes to the beverage business, Kobe Bryant is just getting started. In an interview with ESPN’s Darren Rovell, Bryant revealed that he has made a multi-million dollar investment in BodyArmor, the functional sports drink brand launched by FUZE founder Lance Collins and helmed by Mike Repole, the co-founder of Vitaminwater.

Video: Expo West 2014 – Health-Ade Adds Kombucha Vet as Operations Chief, Ramps Up Production

In this video, filmed at Heath-Ade’s booth at Natural Products Expo West 2014, BevNET CEO John Craven speaks with co-founder Daina Trout about the company’s frugal deployment of capital, its production strategy and why an increase in manufacturing requires a slow and steady approach. Trout also discusses the target market for Health-Ade, why the kombucha category can pull from other beverage segments and new distribution of its beverages.