Bevscape Innovation

CSDs, which have been demonized in the public health debate for everything from containing too much sugar to containing artificial sweeteners, recently received an unexpected public image boost. Dr. Brian Eisner told a meeting of the American Urological Association that some diet sodas may help prevent the formation of kidney stones.

Dr. Eisner found that some CSDs contain relatively high amounts of the alkalis citrate and malate, which help counter the formation of kidney stones. Fruit-flavored sodas had the most alkalis, with Diet Sunkist and Diet 7 Up ranking the highest, while cola flavored beverages had the least.

“This study suggests that people with stone disease who do not drink soda may benefit from moderate consumption,” said AUA spokesperson Anthony Y Smith.

Sugar-sweetened beverages may also offer the same benefits, since they contain the same alkalis. But, Dr Eisner said, the study focused on diet sodas “because we wanted to be able to recommend something that was healthier for our patients.” •

The evaluation, as it was posted on the American Dietetic Association’s Evidence Analysis Library web site, found that – contrary to rumor – aspartame does not create a “rebound” effect that heightens appetite or leads to increased food consumption. The review also concluded that using aspartame in the context of a reduced calorie diet does not affect weight, and may be associated with increased weight loss.

The committee evaluated peer-reviewed research from the scientific literature and concluded that aspartame consumption is not associated with adverse effects in the general population. The Coca-Cola Company unveiled a new plastic bottle that’s made partially from plants.

The new package – called the “PlantBottle” – uses 30 percent plant-based material, is fully recyclable, has a lower reliance on non-renewable resources – like oil – and reduces carbon emissions compared with standard PET bottles, according to Coke.

The PlantBottle is made through a process that turns sugar cane and molasses into a component for PET plastic, but the company is exploring other plant materials for future generations of the PlantBottle.

According to a life-cycle analysis conducted by Imperial College London, the PlantBottle reduces carbon emissions by up to 25 percent. Unlike other plant-based plastics, it can be processed through existing manufacturing and recycling facilities without contaminating traditional PET.

Coca-Cola North America will pilot the PlantBottle with Dasani and sparkling brands in select markets later this year and with vitaminwater in 2010. The bottles will be identified through on-package messages and in-store point of sale displays. Web-based communications will also highlight the bottles’ environmental benefits. •Now is a bad time to be a mid-tier brand, according to recent research from Information Resources, Inc.

IRI reports that value brands grew two percent and premium brands receded just over one percent. But mid-tier brands? They fell by three percent.

The economy has helped boost value brands, IRI reported, but it’s also played a role in cushioning upper-tier brands. Consumers have turned to what IRI called “sophisticated splurging.” They’re holding tight to their cherished health and wellness premium brands, but buying them at value outlets like Target or Walmart instead of traditional grocery or convenience stores. Adding to that trend, IRI said, retailers have dramatically increased the sophistication of their store brands to include high-end options.

“These findings remind us that shoppers often act in unpredictable ways,” said Thom Blischok, president of IRI Consulting and Innovation.

The trend may be short lived – or, at least, poised to end soon – according to recent data from Nielsen.

Poll data taken in April showed that consumers plan to start allowing themselves “some of those little indulgences.” They will, however, continue to focus on financial responsibility while transitioning back to mainstream retailers, according to Nielsen’s vice president of global consumer insights, James Russo.

One lasting effect, according to Nielsen. The majority of consumers will continue to save by reducing gas and electricity use, or at least keeping an eye on their bill. That could result in continued light traffic at the beverage stronghold of gas station convenience stores.Looking for ways to energize your brand? One hot one continues to be shrinking it down. Smaller portions – 100 calories or fewer – remain one of the best ways to keep your product in play, even among waistline watchers, according to a recent report from Mintel. And beverage marketers are catching on – with “100 calorie packs” continuing to make inroads on store shelves, the Coca-Cola Co. is rotating it into its shelf sets with greater frequency, as well. (For more on that, check out page 20.)

Meanwhile, consumers looking for functional brands are also getting better at discerning between functionality and ingredients. A report tracking high-profile functional food failures noted that one of the biggest shortcomings common to brands that didn’t achieve liftoff was the marketers’ use of an ingredient as a main point of difference. According to Failures in Functional Foods and What They Reveal About Success, consumers “buy products only for the benefit to them personally, not because of the ingredient used.”

WILD Flavors, Inc. has developed an acid-stable, naturally-derived blue color additive for use in food and beverage applications. This revolutionary product complements WILD’s full line of Colors from Nature with a brilliant blue color. WILD has also increased its portfolio of Taste Modification Technologies with systems and solutions that address mouthfeel, masking, sweet enhancement, and blocking of bitterness that improve the taste profile of foods and beverages containing Stevia extracts. By rounding out the flavor profiles and masking the Stevia taste profile issues, these ingredients and blends improve the finished product while enhancing Stevia’s sweetening properties.

Cargill has developed flavor solutions for rebiana based on recently patented ground-breaking technology. The technology simultaneously measures comprehensive cellular-level taste responses and uses it in developing new flavor systems for rebiana in food and beverage applications. The new flavor solutions are ideally suited for cereal, yogurt, ice cream, confectionary and various beverage applications including carbonated soft drinks and flavored water that benefit from a natural, reduced calorie product positioning.

Custom nutrient premix company Fortitech showcased samples that focus on boosting immunity, cognitive function and anti-aging during the recent IFT 2009 in Anaheim, CA.