Still Listening, Still Talking

We’ve got a pretty diverse issue this month so I’ll try not to take too much of your time before you jump in and start reading. But before I do that I wanted to thank you for supporting this magazine during its first five years. We wouldn’t exist without the readers and advertisers who find value in what we do.

It’s an exciting time in the beverage industry, and in the story mix here you’ll find that the odd strands we’re looking at here weave a pretty exciting and vibrant picture of the drinks that are on the market today. On the one hand you’ve got the most basic of beverages, water, and on the other you’ve got bit players designed to remove liver toxins.

You’ll find our energy drink guide – like the category, it’s still going strong, now in its third edition – and standing in contrast to it is a story on where Jones Soda is going, as its chief products, CSDs, are moving through quicksand.

In addition to this month marking the fifth anniversary of the launch of Beverage Spectrum, this issue also marks my third anniversary as editor. It’s been pretty amazing to look at some of the changes that have taken place: in my fi rst issue, we ran a photo of a bunch of energy drinks chasing a giant bull (the symbolism was apparent). Now, Monster Energy is practically neck-and-neck with Red Bull in leading the energy category.

We also looked hard at sugar-sweetened CSDs, proposing that there might be room for them on store shelves. We’ve seen that idea advance: in addition to an ongoing backlash against High Fructose Corn Syrup (we see dozens of product introductions that tout their lack of HFCS every month, including the just-announced Red Bull Simply Cola) there’s been a recognition that consumers are interested in all things natural, including real cane sugar.

At the time, we pointed out that Honest Tea’s Seth Goldman and Boston Beer’s Jim Koch were both thought-leaders when it came to figuring out how beverage lines were evolving. Since then, the microbrews long championed by Koch have kept the American beer industry afloat, while Goldman’s tea company recently accepted a minority investment stake from the Coca-Cola Co.

I’m not listing this stuff to point out whether we were right or wrong – as with the Red Bull race, many of these ideas haven’t reached the finish. But the point I’m trying to make is that it’s important to be aware of where the industry has been and where it’s going. We think hangover relief beverages are part of that mix, which is why we’ve added coverage of them this month. Next month we scrutinize another emerging product type: the energy “shot.”

We think in three more years these kinds of products will still be relevant, as are many of the discussions that we were covering three – or even five – years ago. And as always, we’ll be working hard to make sure beverage retailing has an ear – and a voice – in the conversation.