The landscape for children’s beverages has changed much to the surprise even of the parties involved. The American Beverage Association, through its partnership with the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation, announced in March that drink calories shipped to schools dropped by 88 percent over the past six years. That drop included the near-complete removal of full-calorie sodas from school vending machines, leaving Clinton“stunned.”
While initially encouraging, those results demonstrate a challenge for kids’ beverage marketers. The drop in shipped calories accompanied a 73 percent drop in total delivered beverage volume, and the School Beverage Guidelines’ package size mandates only accounts for part of that decline.
To gain entry into that shifting channel, marketers must adhere to strict calorie and nutrition guidelines, but the payoff may be worth the challenge. Larry Belka, vice president of sales for The Switch, reported that individual schools can move a “shocking” amount of product, and, with some districts covering dozens of institutions, volume adds up quickly.
That kind of sell-through, in combination with the opportunity to build brand loyalty in young consumers, has piqued the interest of less-sweet brands normally aimed at adult consumers. Sweet Leaf Tea created 8 oz. SKUs for schools in Texas, Florida and Colorado. Inko’s also recently gained entrance to New York’s stringent school system with two white tea SKUs. Meanwhile, Rob’s Really Good, a brand so new that it focuses on just six markets, is already mulling the idea of a slim can for kids.
While those brands eye schools as a new venue, brands like The Switch are using the halls of education to fuel sales at off-premise retailers. Belka reported that grocers and c-stores stocking The Switch watch the product’s sales spike when the brand activates a nearby school. He’s also found that establishing a school presence helps him place the product in area stores.
Kids’ brands working outside of school walls may benefit from non-traditional placement, said David Glasser, founder and CEO of First Juice. His toddler-targeted brand makes a home in the baby aisle, but Glasser targeted Babies ‘R Us as one of its first retail accounts. He later added placement at Diapers.com, and is currently seeking placement in juice aisles as well as grocers’ cold cases.
In one account, he said, he counted more than 200 linear feet of cold beverages for adults, but not one that could be served to a child under 5-years old. Glasser framed this as a missed opportunity both for his brand and the retailer. Putting First Juice –and other kids’ brands—in the cold case, he said, could meet the needs of thirsty moms with kids in tow and create incremental sales.
Despite his high aims, Glasser lamented that he created a high-end children’s brand on the eve of the worst fiscal crisis of his lifetime, one that has hobbled several of his competitors. Crayons, for example, has suspended its U.S. operations after the firm failed to muster a production run in February. Company founder Duncan Seay said his firm will focus on international opportunities this year with an aim to return to the U.S. in 2011. Similarly, bot, a once-kid-targeted enhanced water now aims for adults, and Wild Waters is no more.
Still, some children’s brands are thriving. Fruit 66 boasts its win at Publix, and Honest Tea’s Honest Kids recently added 64 oz. multi-serve bottles. And, there’s more to come. With school vending volumes down due to the departure of sugary sodas, marketers have space to claim.
Old Orchard Brands
Old Orchard Brands introduced a one-gallon size bottle for seven of its most popular 100 percent fruit flavors – Apple, Apple Cider, Cherry Pomegranate, Cranberry Pomegranate, Blueberry Pomegranate, Acai Pomegranate and Berry Blend. Each bottle contains 16 8 oz. servings and is available at grocery and club stores across the United States. All flavors are fortified with 100 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin C and contain no added sugars, artificial coloring or preservatives.
Envy expanded its distribution through US Foods and Sysco houses in California and throughout the Midwest and recently added placement on Amazon.com. The product also meets or exceeds school beverage guidelines.
Xymbiot, Inc. introduced ZIMBI in a flying toy bottle. The reusable bottle, when empty, can be thrown up to 100 feet. ZIMBI is sweetened with a combination of stevia and sugar and is beginning its roll out in select markets in the West and New England.
Honest Tea recently launched a 64 oz. multi-serve package for Honest Kids Super Fruit Punch and Berry Berry Good Lemonade. Honest Kids 64 oz. will be available early April in Whole Foods Markets. The company also recently introduced two new pouch varieties: Appley Ever After and Super Fruit Punch.
Cutting Edge Beverages
After a debut in Florida, H2Organics Kids Nutrient Enhanced Water is now available at Whole Foods Markets in the Southeast. Cutting Edge Beverages is supporting the new distribution with in-store demos, instant redeemable coupons, local events, and other activities focusing on health and wellness for children.
B.R.A.T Diet, LLC
B.R.A.T. Diet LLC announced its introductory product, Organic B.R.A.T. Feel Better Drink, formulated to deliver digestive comfort and nutrition for children and adults suffering from influenza, upset stomach or dehydration. Organic B.R.A.T. Feel Better Drinks are based on the principles of the B.R.A.T. diet (an acronym for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast).
First Juice teamed up with Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!, the Emmy Award-winning animated TV series. Beginning in April and running through August, First Juice will support the DVD release of “Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!: Wubbzy Goes Green” and the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22. The cross-promotional campaign will reward consumers with a $3 rebate on the purchase of any Wubbzy DVD and specialty-marked First Juice bottles.
Tum-E Yummies now boasts just 50 calories per bottle and 1/3 less sugar. The brand added distribution with Coca-Cola Enterprises and converted from 24- to 12-pack cases. The line also added a new flavor, Sour-sational Raspberry.
Kool-Aid introduced Fun Fizz drink drops that quickly bubble and sparkle into a non-carbonated beverage. Fun Fizz is a sugar-free, 5 calorie beverage. Fun Fizz drops fit into the opening of a standard water bottle and were formulated to flavor eight ounces of water each.
Uncle Matt’s Organic
Uncle Matt’s Organic announced the debut of a new 6 oz. size of its orange juice. The new 6 oz. version of Uncle Matt’s organic pulp-free orange juice offers 90 percent of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin C.
Rockin Products, LLC
Rockin’ Water is launching a redesigned product and label. All four flavors now use a blend of pure cane sugar and stevia, and have only 30 calories per 12 oz. bottle. Based on a survey of over 250 moms, the brand also increased its fiber content.
Kid Fuel gives kids the hydration they need along with essential vitamins and minerals for growing bodies. Each 8 oz. Kid Fuel bottle features a fun series of educational characters in an ergonomically proprietary sport bottle.
WAT-AAH! has increased its distribution with UNFI nationwide along with Great States in the Northeast, Circle K in the New York Metro area and Healthy Gourmet in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. WAT-AAH! recently sponsored the 2010 New York International Children’s Film Festival.
GT Beverage Company
GT will add Grape and Orange flavors to its Sportastic line. In addition to its recently released soccer ball, baseball, and basketball bottles, GT will roll out a holiday ball series which will include a 4th of July and Halloween pumpkin ball. Sportastic is currently sold nationally in 48 states.
Marble Pop took part in the 2009 Anime Expo and recently updated its website with new animations, pictures, and graphics. Marble Pop will be exhibiting at the 2010 Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo from August 14 – 16 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Hansen Beverage Company
Hansen Natural’s Junior Juice updated its packaging with new graphics. The back of each box now features graphics showing Clifford the Big Red Dog’s 10 Big Ideas.
Apple & Eve
Apple & Eve Fruitables is now available in a 46 oz. multi-serve bottle. Fruitables is distributed throughout the Northeast United States.
Fruit 66 announced placement at Publix Super Markets, Inc. and Gordon Food Service, North America’s largest family-owned foodservice distributor.
IN ZONE Brands, Inc.
IN ZONE Brands, Inc., maker of TummyTickler and BellyWashers, introduced new TummyTickler Tots, an apple juice formulated with 40 percent less-sugar for toddlers ages 1-3. TummyTickler Tots has no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners. It comes in bottles with licensed character tops, all of which have spill-proof sippy spouts and are dishwashable, re-usable and recyclable. TummyTickler Tots are available in both 4 oz. bottles and 125 mL juice box package formats.
Inko’s LLC. Inko’s LLC, announced the distribution of two new flavors, Inko’s Blueberry and Inko’s Strawberry White Teas, in all New York City Public High School vending machines and ancillary commissaries. Inko’s created its 12 oz. can line specifically for the school market, with reduced calories and new graphics to appeal to a younger market.