BevNET Live: The Next $7 Billion in Brands, Distribution, and More

The $7 Billion Question

Soda keeps shrinking, but beverages keep growing, and that’s going to create opportunities for new products and brands — about $7 billion worth of them, according to BevNET contributor Neil Kimberley.

Entrepreneurs will get a better understand of their ability to take advantage of those opportunities during a special presentation and panel discussion during BevNET Live in Santa Monica on Dec. 9 and 10.

Kimberley, who has an extensive background in evaluating innovation opportunities for companies like Snapple and Hershey’s as well as for emerging brands like Runa, will present a set of broad projections for the next five years in the beverage industry, indicating categories where new growth may be found as more shelf space opens up through decreased demand for mainstream CSDs.

Following his talk, Kimberley will be joined by Odwalla and Califia Farms founder Greg Steltenpohl and Bonnie Herzog, a high-profile beverage analyst with Wells Fargo Bank, to dissect the factors that will affect innovators’ ability to compete with large beverage entities and existing brands for shelf space and consumer adoption.

Issues to be discussed will include the effects of generational change, shifts in retailing and overall consumer need states, as well as the mechanics of brand building and how they can determine the ultimate size of an enterprise.

This panel presents an opportunity to take macro-forecasting and apply it in a useful way to growing businesses.

Distributor Profile: M.E. Fox & Company, Inc.

Also key to growth for any brand is, of course, distribution, and this edition of BevNET Live’s will profile Northern California distributor M.E. Fox & Company, a beer and beverage distributor based in San Jose. In that area, the company handles products ranging from Red Bull and Sparkling Ice to AquaHydrate and a raft of craft and Anheuser-Busch brands. Company president Terence Fox will outline some of the key issues for distributors who are juggling a large set of high-profile brands with those smaller brands that they’d ultimately like to help develop.

Mr. Fox will discuss the capabilities, challenges, and best practices for working with a mid-size distributor in an important area like San Jose — home to high-tech company cafeterias and choosy, next-generation consumers — while providing insight into the everyday working relationship between entrepreneurs and their most important route to market.

Panel Substitution: Andy Steele

Additionally, BevNET has lost a speaker but gained an able substitute. Chuck Muth, VP of Sales for Honest Tea, will be unable to join in a panel discussion on wrestling with fast growth; taking his place will be Anonmous Consulting founder Andy Steele.

Steele, who was responsible for taking what was then the fast-growing Glaceau family of brands and bringing it into convenience, drug, and value retailing channels, is an in-demand sales executive who has a strong background in both retailing and sales. In addition to helping take Glaceau national in those channels in 2006-2007, Steele recently did so again in a similar role with snack food brand Pretzel Crisps, where he remains an adviser.

About Neil Kimberley

The founder of beverage consulting and advisory firm Foods, Fluids & Beyond, Neil Kimberley began his beverage career with Triarc Beverages, first as Brand Manager on RC Cola, and subsequently as Brand Director of Snapple during the brand’s expansion of the late 1990s. After Cadbury’s acquisition of the New Age beverage pioneer, Kimberley became VP of Strategy for North American Beverage business. After leaving Cadbury in 2008, he spent time as a consultant, working with a diverse set of startup beverage brands, including Runa Guayusa and Whynatte Latte. In 2012 he moved to Hershey to work on strategic development for the business.

About Bonnie Herzog

Bonnie Herzog is a managing director and Senior Tobacco, Beverage and Convenience Store Analyst at Wells Fargo Securities. Prior to joining Wells Fargo in 2010, Herzog was a managing director at Citi Investment Research where she covered the beverage and tobacco sectors in equity research. During her 15 years of experience as a sell-side equity research analyst, Herzog has been a top-ranked Institutional Investor analyst. For nine years, she was recognized by Institutional Investor magazine for the “All-America Research Team,” primarily ranking as No. 2 in the tobacco sector. Prior to joining Citi in 2002,  Herzog was the senior beverage and tobacco analyst at Credit Suisse. Herzog is best known for her in-depth proprietary research and successful contrarian stock calls. She has been a guest speaker at numerous tobacco and beverage industry conferences. Herzog earned an MBA degree in finance from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a BA degree in finance from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

About Greg Steltenpohl

Greg Steltenpohl is currently the CEO of Califia Farms, a grower-owned company dedicated to featuring the regional agricultural heritage of California by growing/farmer-owned brands.  He is also spearheading a regional Slow Food Producers Center on the central coast of California. Best known as founder and former CEO of Odwalla, Inc, the leading U.S. supplier of fresh juice and nourishing beverages, Steltenpohl led the company through its transformation from a small start-up to a publicly held corporation with an average growth rate exceeding 50 percent per year.  In building the Odwalla brand, Greg was a pioneer in employing ideals of environmental sustainability, employee empowerment, creative corporate culture, and community based marketing. After Greg’s departure in  2000, Odwalla was sold to Coca-Cola and remains one of the fastest growing brands in the Coke system.

Prior to Califia, Steltenpohl was the co-founder and CEO of Adina for Life Inc., a venture-backed startup focused on building a fair trade brand with a good for you, good for the planet mission in the natural beverage category. Together with Visa Founder Dee Hock Steltenpohl was also co-founder and Chairman of the Interra Project. Interra supported localized markets for sustainable products by aggregating the buying power of like-minded consumers through loyalty based payment card networks.  He has served on the boards of Frontier Natural Products Cooperative and Social Venture Network. Steltenpohl graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies and currently resides with his wife Dominique in Silver Lake, California.

About Terence Fox and M.E. Fox & Co.

Terence Fox has been the President of M.E. Fox & Company, Inc. since 2006. Previously, he held the positions of Vice President of Sales for M.E. Fox & Company and On-Premise Sales Manager. Fox also worked for Gordon Biersch Brewing Company as a sales manager from 1994 to 1997, where he was responsible for assisting in the rollout and expansion of Gordon Biersch Brewing Company when they expanded from being just a brew pub chain to a regional craft brewer marketing their beer to on and off premise accounts.  A graduate of the University of San Diego, Fox lives in San Jose with his wife of 15 years, Michele and sons Ryan, Connor and Brady.

M.E. Fox & Company, Inc. is a beer and beverage distributor based in San Jose California.  In business since 1965, M.E. Fox & Company, Inc. represents well known suppliers including Anheuser-Busch, InBev, Crown Imports, Heineken U.S.A., Diageo Guinness U.S.A., Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Boston Beer Company, Craft Brewers Alliance, Gordon Biersch Brewing Company, Speakeasy Brewing Company, Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company, Hangar 24 Craft Brewery.  Non-Alcoholic Beverage Suppliers include Red Bull North American, Nestle Waters, Nestle Beverages (Nesquick), Pop Chips, Hint Water, Sparkling Ice (Talking Rain), Novamex (Jarritos), Voss Water, Icelandic Water, Aqua Hydrate Water, Kerns, Xing Teas & Juices, Purity Organic.

About Andy Steele

Andy Steele’s track record of helping launch new concepts and brands is well-known both as a retailer and a manufacturer. Previous to founding Anonymous Consulting & Sales in 2011, Steele was the Vice President of Business Development-Small Format for The Coca Cola Company.  In that role, he managed the national and regional chain account sales responsibility for the portfolio of brands including:  Vitaminwater, Smartwater, Powerade, Fuze, NOS and Full Throttle. Steele was on the executive management team that ultimately sold Glaceau to Coca Cola for $4.2 billion in 2007.  He built the Glaceau business from scratch in the Convenience Store, Drug and Value channels.

Steele has developed a diverse and deep retail background over the last 20 years while working in progressively expanded roles at Caldor, Staples, Store24/Tedeschi’s and Shell Oil.  He assisted Staples in becoming the fastest company ever to $1 billion in sales.  Additionally, he was on the management team that prepared the Store 24 Companies for their eventual sale to Tedeschi’s in 2002. He has spoken at many industry events including Beverage Aisle Summit, Beverage World, NACS and has appeared in Beverage Spectrum Magazine on numerous occasions.  Steele is currently working with innovative brands Snack Factory/Pretzel Crisps, First Aid Shot Therapy-F.A.S.T. and The Nutrition Trust. He received his undergraduate degree from Babson College in 1991 and resides in the Texas and New Hampshire with his wife Sarah and three children, Katherine, Jack and Anna.