ORLANDO — It was all sweetness and light at InterBev 2010 – and that wasn’t just due to the new beverage samples readily on offer at the event’s centrally-located Beverage Bar, or from the 20 or so beverage companies at the event. With the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) sending its petition to the FDA to change the name of high fructose corn syrup to “corn sugar,” the topic of sweetness and the best way for the industry to achieve it was floating about the trade show floor. Meanwhile, on the light side, companies and the industry itself tried to appear more willing to meet the public’s growing demands for environmental responsibility.
The CRA had its own booth set up with information on the proposal, and arguing that the new name could provide “ingredient clarity” for consumers. Reasons behind the name change and petition details were further explained by CRA president Audrae Erickson in a panel on Thursday afternoon.
On the other end of the spectrum, science also has its own sweet agenda, one evidenced by other calorie-free sweetener booths at the event and Tuesday afternoon’s sweetener panel discussion, in which industry professionals weighed in on new trends and brands.
On the floor, Sweet Green Fields and GLG had prominent booth positions. Both companies have developed zero-calorie sweeteners derived from the Stevia plant. When asked about the future of sweeteners and, in particular, the use of Stevia, GLG’s business development manager, Angela Palmeri explained that while each kind of sweetener will have its place in the industry, Stevia stands out because it “meets consumer demand for more natural, wholesome foods and has an opportunity to be part of the obesity solution.”
While achieving the right level of sweet can be a key for many beverage companies, others chose to take different routes. As an example, two potentially gimmicky new offerings in the New Beverage Aisle were ChillO, which boasts a strong hemp flavor and daring label with a prominent hemp leaf graphic, and the Korean-based Daesang’s Hongcho, which is hoping to break into the U.S. market. Hongcho had a large, bright booth near the front of the floor. The beverage syrup combined concentrated pomegranate flavor with vinegar in a package that consumers would be expected to dilute on their own by adding water or other liquids.
Amidst thin crowds and seemingly low energy levels, some companies at least hinted at new industry trends.
Just Chill made its national debut at the trade show and provided representation for the emerging relaxation beverage category. Infused with L-Theanine and plenty of California sunshine, company representatives presented plenty of good vibes and spoke of the desire to increase distribution of their product. On the other end of the spectrum, Bing Energy played with a bold cherry flavor in its energy drink. Touting itself as a Red Bull alternative, the beverage focused on its all-natural flavor and use of sugar as a sweetener.
Putting out environmentally friendly packaging is becoming increasingly important in today’s industry. As such, the Green Aisle featured eco-friendly trends. Additionally, the range of green and environmentally-conscious products on offer, ranging from Canadian bagged water to recycled packaging from Zumbiel, showed that the industry is taking further steps to help reduce its carbon footprint. This mindset was further highlighted by the International Bottled Water Association’s director of science and research, Tamika Sims, who spoke about the increased use of recycled materials in PET bottles.
By looking for such bottle solutions, Sims said, companies are better demonstrating their “responsibility to the consumer and environment” by working to “maintain and create a balance.” She touted the IBWA’s Life Cycle Inventory study from earlier this year, which found bottled water has a small environmental footprint –contributing only 0.08 percent of total United States greenhouse gas emissions for small pack and HOD bottled water. Both Sims and the exhibitors at InterBev demonstrated that the “environmentally friendly” trend is just about guaranteed to continue and it will be interesting to see how the industry responds to its demands through future innovation.
For a look at some of the people we visited at InterBev 2010, please check out our photo gallery:
BevNET’s coverage of InterBev 2010 is sponsored by GLG Life Tech Corporation. GLG is a producer of Rebaudioside A, the sweet glycoside extracted from the Stevia plant. To learn more about GLG, visit http://www.glglifetech.com.