BevNET Live is the premiere educational networking conference for beverage professionals. Held twice a year, BevNET Live events each attract over 500 attendees representing more than 150 beverage brands. In addition to the educational programming, BevNET LIVE features networking options including a table top expo, the New Beverage Showdown, sampling opportunities, cocktail receptions and more.
BevNET Live NYC
BevNET Live Summer 2014
June 2-3 (Tue-Wed)
W. 46th Street in New York City, NY.
BevNET Live Santa Monica:
BevNET Live Winter 2015
December 2-3 (Mon-Tue).
Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel
Food & Beverage University (FBU) is an entry-level crash course to the CPG food and beverage industries. These single-day events provide early-stage entrepreneurs with the tools and insights they will need to tackle their first few years of business. Attendees learn first-hand from industry experts while networking with speakers and fellow entrepreneurs.
FBU Austin: February 10
BevNET FBU Austin is fast approaching and will take place in Brazos Hall at 204 East 4th Street Austin, TX on Tuesday, Feb. 10.
FBU Chicago: April 30
2015 marks the first return to Chicago for FBU since we hosted our Beverage School event in 2013. More details including speakers, program and venue info are forthcoming.
FBU Boston: September 30
For food & beverage entrepreneurs in the Northeast, we will host FBU in Boston again in 2015 on Wednesday, Sept. 30. We’ll post more information on the event as soon as it’s finalized.
FBU LA: November 5
Following the success of FBU LA this past September, we will return to the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles yet again on Thursday, Nov. 5. Specific program information will be announced later in the year.
Brewbound Session provides an excellent opportunity to learn from and network with leaders in the craft beer industry. Learn about marketing, investment, and distribution strategies, as well as hear case studies of successful brands in a highly collaborative atmosphere. Attendees will also have numerous opportunities to engage fellow attendees, speakers and sponsors during structured networking breaks.
Brewbound Session Chicago:
June 11 (Thurs.)
Details will be announced shortly.
Brewbound Session San Diego:
December 3 (Thurs.)
Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego
Brew Talks are free-to-attend, after-work networking events for craft beer professionals. Typically hosted at breweries, Brew Talks feature panel discussions and presentations that cover local market dynamics and larger trends in the industry. Brewbound will host 8 Brew Talks events throughout the United States in 2015. Sponsorship opportunities are available.
Brew Talks Boston:
Feb. 24, 2015
After hosting 20 Brew Talks events, we are bringing it back to where it all started, Boston. The series has evolved significantly since the very first Brew Talks in Boston two years ago. This time it returns to the Harpoon Brewery.
Brew Talks San Diego:
March 10, 2015
Brew Talks will once again take place in one of America’s foremost craft beer cities, San Diego, on March 10, 2015.
Six more Brew Talks events are being planned through 2015, we will announce info as soon as we can!
Speculation around WhiteWave, Coke, PepsiCo, AB-InBev, You Name It
Longstanding chatter regarding the benefits of a potential merger between Coca-Cola and WhiteWave Foods dates back to 2012, but the conversation has resurfaced with a recent Wells Fargo Securities report highlighting the opportunities of a partnership between the two companies.
Wells Fargo Securities analyst Bonnie Herzog, who authored the report, pointed to WhiteWave’s line of plant-based beverages (PBB) as a “unique growth opportunity” for both companies, adding that “[WhiteWave] has the product and [Coke] has route to market.”
Powered by its Silk brand, WhiteWave markets a range of dairy-alternative beverages, including soy milk, coconut milk and almond milk, the latter of which is the number one product line in the burgeoning category.
Herzog believes that Coke would benefit by acquiring or entering into a distribution partnership with WhiteWave, allowing the company to tap into the quickly growing PBB market, which has thrived amid declining soda sales. WhiteWave, as Herzog put it, would “[gain] access to a world class global distribution network to accelerate its global growth trajectory.”
WhiteWave’s Horizon Organic milk brand could be another enticing line for Coke, as it makes its entry in the dairy market. According to Herzog, Horizon Organic could complement the recently launched FairLife, the Coke-backed, protein-packed premium milk brand, which is set to launch in early 2015.
If not Coke, Herzog believes that PepsiCo or Mexican dairy giants Grupo Lala could also be strong partners for WhiteWave as it looks to expand globally. PepsiCo has been vocal regarding its interest in protein and dairy, and Grupo Lala, with $3.4 billion in annual sales, seeks to expand its distribution in Latin America.
WhiteWave Foods has thrived since it’s spin-off from Dean Foods in May, 2013. Earlier this year, the company acquired Earthbound Farms, the nation’s largest grower of organic produce, in a deal worth approximately $600 million. Last month, WhiteWave announced its third quarter results, reporting a 34 percent increase in revenue as compared to the same period in 2013.
Meanwhile, there was plenty of other speculation going around near New Year’s Eve. The Wall Street Journal reported that Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital may be closing in on its next power move. According to The Journal’s sources, investors have pledged approximately $5 billion for a new 3G fund in the last several weeks. Sources named Campbell Soup Co. and even a stake in PepsiCo as potential targets for the Brazilian billionaires who purchased the H.J. Heinz Company in 2013 for $23 billion.
And while Herzog was exploring add-ons for Coke, Coke was actually slimming down, cutting at least 1,000 to 2,000 jobs worldwide. The cuts come as part of a $3 billion cost-cutting plan that the company announced in October, a response to widespread declining soda sales. Over 10 percent of Coke’s corporate staff, in its Atlanta headquarters and global regional offices are expected to be let go, while employees of Coke’s bottling and distribution end will keep their jobs.
But jobs weren’t the only thing that Coke’s eliminating at its home base. According to Bloomberg, the company has also disconnected office voice mail in efforts “to simplify the way we work and increase productivity,” according to a November memo from Coke’s Chief Information Officer Ed Steinike. The elimination of voice mail will apparently save the company only $100,000, and had more to do with adapting to the times than trimming costs.
BEVNET BEST OF 2014
Product of the Year: Harmless Harvest
The thing about Harmless Harvest is that the brand proposition has served as a template for other brands, even as it has continued to execute behind its high-quality products. The company continues to feel the lift from its group of true believers – but the overall influence they have had in proving out the viability of high pressure processing has had a massive echo effect, helping carry the industry forward, while it has also shown many companies that building a brand in Whole Foods and complementary incubation channels can be a success unto itself.
On the quality front, Harmless Harvest has managed to add a premium layer to a product that had already established itself at a premium price. The taste, branding, and mission have created a viable brand out of something that initially surfaced as an experimental exercise in idealism. With new offshoots in tea and chocolate, innovation continues to roll out of the company, but it’s actually a focus on the core brand that has raised the bar for the industry from a product and purpose point of view.
Person of the Year: Rodney Sacks, CEO,Monster Beverage
Rodney Sacks pulled off three major triumphs this year to earn BevNET’s Person of the Year for 2014. First, Monster’s deal with the Coca-Cola Co. has broadened the company’s reach as a global brand while also opportunistically aligning it with an established partner who can simplify and amplify its route to market. The deal has, of course, also rewarded shareholders within the Monster family. Second, in terms of responsiveness, over the past two years, as regulatory pressure has come into the category, Monster has increased its transparency regarding ingredients and worked toward making adjustments that satisfy political inquiries without negatively impacting the brand. The Coke deal further established Monster as a company whose reputation cannot be questioned by associating it with this all-American brand.
Since facing up to the Senate last summer, Monster’s legitimacy has only grown, while negative publicity has receded and the company’s strong execution and appeal has allowed it to fly above the din. Third, the company’s recent portfolio realignment has made it much more clearly into a beverage supplier that engages a variety of parts of the cooler, making consumer, distributor, and retailer understanding a quicker and more rational process. Under Rodney’s leadership, the company has made the transition from entrepreneurial business to mature, global brand – no mean trick for any company, particularly one that has faced intense external competition, not to mention public scrutiny from the very start.
Best Functional Beverage: Tumeric ALIVE
Leading with its proprietary source of Hawaiian turmeric, this company’s line of blended elixirs has caught the eye of many as a highly differentiated brand among an evolving (and increasingly crowded) functional beverage set.
Best Energy Drink or Shot: Muscle Monster
As the energy category gets more mature, and the product set hardens, the fight is now a race to broaden to new parts of the store. Monster Muscle is on-trend, tasty, and takes advantage of the improvement in protein mixing technology to move the brand into a new part of the cooler. It takes a lot to move the needle in the energy space, but Monster Muscle has added dayparts to the brand while broadening its consumer appeal.
Best Coffee or Coffee-Based: Chameleon RTD
When Chameleon, one of the original players in packaged cold-brew coffee, decided to formulate a ready-to-drink product, the company might have had a winner simply by diluting its revered coffee concentrate with water and bottling the liquid. Instead, Chameleon updated its coffee roast and brewing process in order to emphasize flavor – in the company’s words – “first and foremost.” The result is a line that maintains what we love about the company’s concentrates: a bold, but smooth, coffee taste profile.
Best Carbonated Beverage: Q Drinks
Somewhere along the line, Q Drinks made the decision to be more that a mixer brand – and it’s working. Between the Cola, Lemon, Orange and Ginger flavors, Q Drinks, which consistently innovate with new flavor and packaging options, has brought consumers to the mixer aisle for its soda, while establishing itself as the anchor for that section of the store.
Best Tea-Based: Owl’s Brew
When considering the vast number of offerings in the tea category, it’s clear that variety, in both flavor and packaging, is not an issue. True innovation, on the other hand, is much more difficult to come by. In marketing a line of tea-based cocktail mixers, however, Owl’s Brew has identified white space in the segment by utilizing tea not as the final product, but as an ingredient that sets the stage for blended drinks. The formulation of the products is top-notch – the brand’s apothecary-style black glass bottle package is just as impressive.
Best Juice: WTRMLN WTR
In an overflowing sea of cold-pressed juice brands, many promoting esoteric blends and functions, WTRMLN WTR has separated itself from the pack with a juice beverage that is made with just three ingredients: watermelon flesh, watermelon rind and lemon. It’s simple and easy to understand, a critical point of differentiation within a category that continues to battle for mainstream acceptance.
Best Smoothie or Meal Replacement: Tio Gazpacho
The bottled gazpacho brand is appealing to the senses in both flavor – the high pressure processed tomato-based blends are delicious and fresh-tasting – and design – the label and clear bottle are polished and approachable. Promoted with the tagline “no bowl required,” Tio Gazpacho is well-positioned as a meal replacement for consumers looking for an on-the-go and highly nutritious offering.
Best Product Revamp: Hint Fizz
Hint’s decision to take its carbonated line out of glass and into plastic was a timely decision. Amid a boom in consumption of sparkling water products, it’s now positioned to take advantage of growing demand for such zero-calorie drinks. Combined with its new “unsoda” positioning, it gives the brand far greater opportunity for growth in grocery and convenience channels.
Best Mix, Concentrate or Powder: Pok Pok Som Drinking Vinegar
Drinking vinegar is certainly a category on the bleeding edge, with products gently nudging their way into natural and specialty retailers amid an uptick in consumer education and awareness for the drink. Packaged in clear, apothecary-style bottles, this concentrate is marketed as a digestif and bar mixer. While drinking vinegar may still be years away from becoming a mainstream offering, Pok Pok Som has positioned itself to be well ahead of the curve.
Best Enhanced Water: Koa
For a product that does not label, market or promote itself as “water,” one might ask why BevNET has chosen Koa as its Best Enhanced Water of 2014. The answer is simple: for us, Koa, a clear-colored, plant-based beverage made from a blend of nine fruit and vegetable juices, is supremely fit for an enhanced water category that in recent years has lacked true and definable innovation. Using a proprietary production process, Koa retains the liquid, vitamins and nutrients from its raw ingredients, leaving out color, sugar and calories. While marketed as a juice-based product, the brand is often placed on the same shelf as nutrition-rich waters and offers a take so unique and different, we’re compelled to look… and drink.
Best Packaging Design: WTRMLN WTR
Packaged in a 12 oz. slim PET bottle, WTRMLN WTR’s red- and green-colored label offers consumers an appealing and palate-whetting design that, for us, screams “summertime refreshment” and makes the product quickly and easily identifiable as watermelon juice.
Best Packaging Innovation: Coconut Cartel
2014 is a first for BevNET in that we’re awarding a beverage in which the liquid never leaves its original package. Coconut Cartel is simply a Malayan Dwarf coconut that aside from laser etching of the company’s logo, is unadulterated in the most literal sense. By maintaining the coconut water in its original shell, consumers are privy to a smooth and full-bodied flavor and unique drinking experience that feels more appealing any other package available.
Best Marketing Campaign: Share a Coke
Earlier this year, Coca-Cola removed its logo from labels of select 20 oz. bottles of Coke, Diet Coke and Coke Zero. In place of the logo, Coke added first names and monikers (written in the well-known Coke font) that are popular among millennials and young people (i.e. Jeff, Sarah, “Bestie”). The cola giant encouraged buyers and recipients of the drinks to post images of the beverages on social media using the hashtag #ShareaCoke. The program, which delivered a much-needed spike in sales and expanded volume share for Coca-Cola, will be reintroduced and expanded in 2015; by any estimation, it’s a smart move.
Best Non-Carbonated Beverage: Bai 5
Bai5’s taste has typically popped better than any five-calorie product we’ve encountered. The push into tea and lemonade in its Tanzania Lemonade has given it more range as well as a mainstream horse to augment the slightly off-beat formulations in the 10-flavor line.
Best Kids’ Beverage: Vital Kids
While cold-pressed juice is a booming category, few brands have ventured into the realm of kids’ beverages. However, Vital Juice’s extension, Vital Kids, marries a well-executed formulation with catchy names and graphics to create something that takes advantage of one of few remaining opportunities for white space in the cold-pressed juice category. Launched in 10 oz. bottles, Vital Juice plans to segue the line into 6 oz. sizes at $2.99, a manageable price point for parents who might just end up drinking a few bottles themselves.
As one incubator shrinks, another is, well, incubating.
PepsiCo’s Naked Emerging Brands division has undergone a major reorganization, one that resulted in the near-elimination of the sales force at the erstwhile innovation shop.
Chris Lansing, the VP and General Manager of Naked Emerging Brands, retains oversight of the division, and a slightly broader title within the overarching North American Premium Nutrition group as well, according to her LinkedIn profile. In that role she will be able to draw on the company’s beverage and food categories as part of product development and marketing strategies. Ms. Lansing could not be reached for comment.
With regard to the Naked Emerging Brands group itself, the unit will now be much more heavily weighted toward marketing its brands, while its sales will be mostly handled through PepsiCo’s Chicago offices, which are closely associated with Tropicana, Quaker, and the Pepsi Warehouse Sales (PWC) division. Naked does retain its own chilled DSD system, which is being used to distribute its own products and products like Kevita; of the more than 20 members of the group’s sales team, only some brand-associated employees remain, but those who were working as part of the broader unit have either left the company or been reassigned.
Meanwhile, hospitality giant Marriott International has announced plans to become involved in the growing food and beverage startup space with the launch of CANVAS, a new food and beverage incubator.
CANVAS will give entrepreneurs, chefs, bartenders and artisan food producers the opportunity to pitch food and drink concepts specific to various Marriott hotels, according to a statement from the company. The chosen winners, selected by local committees made up of restaurant owners, hotel owners and industry experts, will see their ideas come to fruition, backed by Marriott funding. After six months of operations, each concept will be reviewed based on its success and return on investment.
“We believe the key ingredient of CANVAS is to marry the best ideas of local entrepreneurs with Marriott’s resources, space and capital that will transform ambition into action right inside out hotels,” Wolfgang Lindlbauer, Chief Discipline Leader of Marriott’s Global Operations, said in the statement.