BevNET.com's Best of 2011

This year's field for BevNET's ninth annual “Best of” awards was quite strong, with many of the best efforts coming in the second half of the year.

The awards served as something of a reference map for the developing beverage landscape as well as a way for the winners to strut their stuff. By looking across all of the entries, we can see some interesting trends:

“Energy” was again the most dominant function across all of the entries. With the energy drink market experiencing double digit growth in 2011 and 5-Hour Energy making its way to the $1 billion mark, it's no surprise that another new wave of entries has hit the market. But the awards came in all shapes and sizes and formulations that didn't just fit into the traditional energy drink and shot buckets-- they comprised a host of hybrids in just about every category, including coffee, juice, dairy, and tea.

The overall Health and Wellness trend continues to guide product innovation, and it's one of the key reasons that entrepreneurs have launched new entries in once obscure beverage categories like kombucha, chia, and aloe. While all of these categories are just getting started, this year's Best of 2011 awards were given to a few of the brands playing in those areas, and we expect to see big things from them in years to come.

One reason the emergence of these brands is so relevant is reflected in another key trend we can't forget about: coconut water. Growing from its humble beginnings a few years back to a now $350 million estimated in retail sales, coconut water, like energy, has found its way into every category (including energy, we might add) and the product launches show no signs of slowing down. And it's impact on our awards was substantial, with several of the top awards (including Product of the Year and Person of the Year) going to the two leading brands, Vita Coco and ZICO.

2011 was a year where refreshment beverages -- CSDs, teas, juices, and water -- seemed to get back on track. All of these categories saw growth, either overall or in specific segments or channels. In fact, we seemed to see more new tea, juice, and CSD brands come to market in 2011 than any other year since BevNET's Best Of awards started.

In any event, congratulations to our 18 winners -- and good luck to those of you launching products in 2012!

ZICO Chocolate

Product of the Year

Michael Kirban

Person of the Year

BodyArmor

Best Functional Beverage

Monster Rehab

Best Energy Drink or Shot

Dream Water Shot

Best Relaxation Drink or Shot

Mamma Chia

Best Non Carbonated Beverage

Joia

Best Carbonated Soft Drink

GT's Synergy Kombucha Chia Flavors

Best Tea or Tea Based

Jamba Daily Superfruit Shots

Best Juice or Juice Based

Greater Than

Best Sports or Hydration

Greater Than

Best Smoothie or Meal Replacement

Deluxe Honeydrop

Best Product Revamp

Kraft MiO

Best New Powder, Tablet, Mix

Aloe Gloe

Best Enhanced Water

Stumptown Cold Brew

Best Packaging Design

CSWISS

Best Packaging Innovation

Vita Coco

Best Marketing - Traditional

The Coca-Cola Company

Best Marketing - Social or interactive