As a key market for beverage innovation and incubation, Los Angeles has long been hailed as a leader in the development and underpinning of sophisticated beverage trends and functional ingredients, particularly in the realm of health and wellness. The city has been a springboard for dozens of successful natural brands, including POM Wonderful, GT’s Kombucha, and Evolution Fresh. But why has L.A. been such a strong jumping off point? In this video segment filmed in Venice, Calif., BevNET CEO John Craven and Andrew Guard, a beverage specialist, postulate that beverage brands have benefited from a general focus on healthier living in Southern California and a consumer base willing and able to pay a slightly higher price point for the products.
In their recent visit to Los Angeles, Craven and Guard examined the growth of a number of nascent, higher-priced, better-for-you beverage categories, including cold brew coffee, high-pressure processed juices, and kombucha drinks. Craven and Guard also explore L.A.’s impact as a driving force behind the current health and wellness trends sweeping through the beverage industry, having surveyed the beverage scene in the city through discussions with a range of local suppliers and distributors, as well as visits to a number of mainstream and natural retailers in the area, including Ralph’s, Vons, Whole Foods, and Fresh & Easy.
And as a final note to the segment, Craven offers his take on why some beverage manufacturers might want to take a cue from their entrepreneurial counterparts and the traction they’ve gained in the Los Angeles area, particularly as the proposed New York City ban on large containers of sugary drinks looms large as a threat to the industry.
“What you always see out here is the beverage industry of tomorrow, and that’s something that’s pretty encouraging,” Craven said. “There’s a lot of bad press on the beverage business right now… and most of the entrepreneurial marketers are aware of that and – regardless of [the proposed NYC ban] – they’re already doing what is responsible and creating products that are more in line with the healthy lifestyle.”