What's Happening Across Beverages


The Big One Edition — Coca-Cola Co. Buys Glaceau

The Cash: $4.1 billion in cash and Coke stock for a company whose fast-growing Vitaminwater product line is expected to solidify the soda giant’s footing in non-carbs for years to come, as well as millions more to buy out the contracts of many distributors (yes, the ones Glaceau founder J. Darius Bikoff referred to those distributors last year as the – ulp! – ‘Glaceau network’).

The Objective: As noted above, Coke continues to try to get its non-carb offerings in line with its wide-ranging but fading CSD lines. Glaceau finally stops flirting and cashes in on the brand’s momentum.

The Analysis: Should be a slam-dunk for Coke when it comes to putting an end to chattering about how company is weak in non-carbs, and could be a huge international growth engine, as well, the kind of international brand that Gatorade has become. Buying out distributors is expensive, but should stop Coke bottling network and CCE from continuing to scream for exciting brands. Biggest buyout of individual beverage brand on record, so Coke can’t screw it up – can it? If this thing starts to smell of the Snapple buyout in a few years, heads will roll.


Moving Forward: a lawsuit that alleges that products including Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi were sold with ingredients that can form benzene – which has been linked to some forms of cancer – has been allowed to progress after a federal judge in Kansas denied a motion to dismiss the suit in late May. The Coca-Cola Co. has already settled the case, but PepsiCo, Sunny Delight and Rockstar are still part of the suit.

Back in Court: the suit between artificial sweetener manufacturers Merisant, which makes Equal and McNeil Nutritionals, which makes and sells Splenda, was back in court mere days after a settlement had been reached in the case. McNeil was apparently upset that Merisant ran an advertisement in USA Today trumpeting a jury’s finding a guilty verdict on false advertising claims in the case against Splenda. The settlement had been reached before damages were awarded, but according to McNeil, the ads violated the agreement.


No one knows whether President Bush is a Coke or a Pepsi kind of guy, but we know two things about his visit to Germany for the recent Group of Eight summit.

1. He got sick to his stomach.

2. Neither of those familiar colas were around to soothe his presidential tummy.

What there was instead was Germany’s own Afri Cola, a small (12 million bottles), local CSD that is bottled near the summit’s locale.

According to caterer Jarste Weuffen, the summit wanted a local brand. We hope, for their sake, it wasn’t the cause of the President’s mid-summit retreat from view. We also hope it wasn’t the schnitzel.


The California Milk Processor Board – otherwise known as the friendly folks behind “Got Milk” – is not happy with its hippie brethren.

Recently, the organization’s Executive Director, Steve James, was Web surfing when he saw a photo captioned “The loneliness of the hemp milk seller” featured in a wrap-up of last year’s Natural Foods Expo East.

James did a double-take when he saw that the lonely hemp milk seller in question was wearing a shirt bearing the logo “Got (HEMP) Milk?” – a play on the group’s omnipresent slogan, and began sending out cease-anddesist letters to all the hemp milk companies he could find.

“It’s direct copyright infringement,” James said. “We’re very interested in preventing that.”

Waitaminute. Isn’t the word “Got” followed by some other funny or ironic word (i.e. Got Drugs? Got Beer? Got Sand) pretty much the most widespread joke on the planet? It is, of course, but the company takes exception when another food or beverage company tries to horn in on the action.

“They’re selling hemp milk in this case,” he said of the company, which was later revealed to be Living Harvest. “They would still be trying to produce a beverage.”

That’s not the case with most of the other uses of the phrase, he added.

“I really can’t control many of the other uses,” James said. “It’s the English language, after all. I mean, I’m looking at two requests for ‘Got Milf ’ right now. There’s not a lot we could do about those.”


Peter van Stolk grew up in Canada, but apparently the Jones Soda founder has got a big yen for four-down football anyway.

Jones has signed a deal to be the official soft drink supplier at Seattle’s Qwest Field for the next five years, and will be featured at fountains and in cans and bottles during football games, concerts, and other events at its home city arena.

It’s not known how much Jones paid for the agreement, but a key play in the company’s sponsorship drive was a patent the company has that will allow them to put a Seahawks lineup on the soda bottles, as well as those of fans. Photographers will roam the stadium during the games, and fans will be able to buy customized 12-packs through the company’s Web site.

Jones recently made a commitment to use only pure cane sugar in its beverages, which will extend to the stadium.


• The Boston Beer Company has announced the promotion of its National Sales Manager, John Geist, to the newly created position of Vice President of Sales.

• The Penta Water Company announced the appointment of Dennis F. O’Brien to the company’s leadership team as chief executive officer. Mr. O’Brien most recently served as president and chief operating officer with ConAgra Foods.

• Function Drinks hired Bob Miller, former executive vice president of sales for Fuze Beverage, as executive vice president of sales and head of strategic planning.

• Celsius hired Erin Heit for the position of Marketing Vice President. She had previously been marketing manager at Fuze Beverages.

• Welch’s appointed Chris Heye as VP of Marketing and David Engelkemeyer as VP of Operations & Technology.

• Mix1 announced the hiring of Robert Pinkerton as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer.

• New Sun Nutrition has promoted Maigread Eichten, the company’s Chief Operating Officer, to President and Chief Executive Officer. Dick Lamb, the company’s founding Chief Executive Officer and a major shareholder in the company, will serve as Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors.

• Jones Soda Co. named former Izze Beverage Co. executive Peter Burns Peter Van Stolk and some new, burly buddies. as senior executive vice president of sales and marketing.