By Ray Latif
Bustling with delicacies, deals and debuts, the Fancy Food Show returned to New York City’s Jacob Javits Center after a two-year stint in Washington D.C. — and, let’s face it, there’s no place like the Big Apple. Following an equally vibrant winter show in San Francisco, the three-day event mirrored New York’s energetic and dynamic vibe with winding swaths of attendees and suppliers from all parts of the world.
Beverage exhibitors, which numbered about 60, seemed pleased at the overall flow and interest from retailers and distributors, and those that featured new products and line extensions indicated a significant amount of traffic at their booths. Visiting with industry stalwarts and new players alike, BevNET spoke with a number of beverage executives at the event, with many offering news and insight that might prove to have a significant impact on the second half of the year — and well beyond.
Honest Tea co-founder and TeaEO Seth Goldman told BevNET that sales of Honest Fizz, the company’s line of zero-calorie sodas, are now projected to reach 180,000 cases by the end of the year, doubling its expectations for the brand, which launched nationally in March. Goldman said demand for the drinks has been tremendous, to the point that the company was out of stock of Honest Fizz for the entire month of June. Goldman also said that although cost considerations have prevented the company from releasing an organic formulation for three of the brand’s four SKUs, Honest Tea is getting closer to releasing an all-organic line-up. He noted that cost savings from a move to shrink wrap packaging for 4-packs of the soda — which will take place within the year — would likely contribute toward its goal of achieving an organic formulation for all Honest Fizz products.
Goldman also hinted at upcoming deals with three national restaurant chains that will begin selling Honest Tea’s fresh-brewed food service line of tea. While he declined to name the chains, he said each had over 100 locations and are all well-known brands. Honest Tea also launched an unsweetened lemon tea variety at the show. The new zero-calorie flavor, which debuted in the New York City market, is packaged in the brand’s 16.9 oz. PET bottle and will be distributed nationally.
Meanwhile, Goldman’s old partner was back in the game: co-founder Barry Nalebuff and packaged goods entrepreneur Ariel Glazer were showing off KomBrewCha, a new line of low-alcohol, sparkling kombucha drinks that come in five varieties.
Ayala’s Herbal Water introduced a new line of organic, zero-calorie herbal teas. Ayala’s Herbal Tea contains no caffeine and no sweeteners and comes in four varieties: Rooibos Cinnamon Rose Petal, Nutmeg Cacao Nibs Cardamom, Chamomile Bergamot Vanilla and Peppermint Melissa Spearmint. Packaged in 14 oz. glass bottles, the brand will be sold exclusively at two natural grocery chains from July 31 to Nov. 1, when the drinks will launch at a variety of other retailers.
blk Beverages launched a four-SKU flavored line extension to its brand of high-alkaline, fulvic trace mineral-infused waters. Named blk+, the new drinks will be positioned as alternatives tosports/multifunction beverages and coconut water products, according to vice president of marketing Albie Manzo. Manzo said that while the hot-fill process required to package the drinks results in a slightly lower alkalinity, the products give the blk brand name greater versatility and a more approachable feel for new consumers. blk+ comes in four flavors — Lemonade, Mango, Tropical Punch and Blueberry Acai — and is packaged in 16.9 oz. grip-type plastic bottles. Manzo said that while the company is attempting to establish new DSD distribution for its products, blk+, like the company’s flagship product, will be initially be distributed by UNFI, Kehe and Haddon House.
As of March, Q Drinks sparkling beverages gained placement in three natural grocery chains: Sprouts, Earth Fare and The Fresh Market. Sales of the brand, which is also sold in Whole Foods, Amazon.com, and a variety of independent retailers, are growing at 60 percent annually, according to founder Jordan Silbert. Silbert also noted that Q Drinks, which is distributed nationally via UNFI, is gaining momentum with the liquor channel and that the company is evaluating opportunities for new direct store distribution (DSD).
Mountain Valley Spring Water is planning to launch its first flavored sparkling water varieties by the end of the 2013 or the beginning of 2014. The company, which markets a range of packaged still and sparkling water products, will introduce lime and blackberry pomegranate flavors in 1 L glass bottles for a suggested retail price of $2.89-3.49.
Oatworks has revamped the packaging and introduced a tweak in the formulation of its ready-to-drink oat-based beverages. Now positioned as an “oat-powered natural smoothie,” the three-SKU drink line moved from a 10.8 oz. squarish bottle to rounder 12 oz. plastic package with a light brown label with clear sections at the top, bottom and middle, enabling consumers to see the liquid inside. Oatworks, which comes in three flavors — Strawberry Banana, Pomegranate Blueberry and Peach Mango — also adjusted the formulation of the drinks to create a slightly more viscous mouthfeel. CEO David Peters said that Oatworks, which was scheduled to debut last year in the Boston and San Francisco markets, is now concentrating on New York City, where the brand launched with Exclusive Beverage Distributors. Peters also said that Oatworks will be available for sale on Amazon.com.
With its sleekly designed, slim glass bottles and an extensive range of natural juices and flavored sparkling waters, Australia-based Found Beverage Co. certainly turned quite a few heads at the show. Launched seven years ago, the gourmet and specialty foods expo was the U.S. debut for Found, which markets its products with the tagline “The Age of Artificial is Over.” Made with natural mineral water sourced from Turkey, Found sells five varieties of its sparkling water with a few uniquely flavored varieties, including Apple & Cinnamon, Cucumber & Mint and Elderflower. Found’s juices are also sourced from Turkey and packaged in the brand’s proprietary 8.45 oz. glass bottles. Sweetened with 14 grams of beet sugar and containing 65 calories per bottle, the juices come in five varieties: Pomegranate, Orange, Apple, Grape and Peach & Apple. Co-founder Onur Kece said that Found saw a great deal of interest from distributors and retailers at the show, but had yet to formalize any agreements
Runa has added “Zero” to the labels of its Clean Energy line of bottled guayusa drinks. The company has also secured a new distribution deal with Whole Foods’ Southwest region, where its products will land on store shelves by the end of July.
In August, FOCO will launch a new 1 L Tetra Pak to its line of coconut waters.
RealBeanz is revamping the labels for its line of nutrient-enhanced iced coffee drinks. The package will feature greater emphasis on the brand’s all-natural formulation and calorie count of the products.
New Beverage Showdown 5 finalist Jin-Ja, a functional beverage made with ginger, cayenne pepper, green tea, mint and lemon, took home the show’s top “sofi” (specialty outstanding food innovation) award for best cold beverage in a tie with Brands of Britain’s Fever-Tree Premium Sparkling Lemon. In the hot beverage category, Bhakti Chai was awarded gold for its line of chai tea drinks.