Pepsi Launches Bubly
After watching the prodigious rise of private label products and brands like La Croix, PepsiCo announced its entry into the sparkling water category in February with the launch of Bubly, an eight-SKU line of fruit-flavored carbonated water in 12 oz. cans.
“When we looked at the sparkling water category, we saw an opportunity to innovate from within by building a new brand and product from the ground up to meet consumer needs,” said Todd Kaplan, Vice President, Water Portfolio – PepsiCo North America Beverages, in a press release. “We created Bubly to provide consumers with a great-tasting, flavorful, unsweetened sparkling water in a fun, playful, and relevant manner that is unlike anything we’ve seen in the sparkling water category today.”
Bubly will be available in eight flavors: lime, grapefruit, strawberry, lemon, orange, apple, mango and cherry. The brand’s “fun, playful” side is reflected its bright color scheme and irreverent personal messages on each can (“hold cans with me,” for example). The zero-calorie line is free from artificial flavors and sweeteners.
The line, which debuted in stores and via online retailers at the end of February, is sold in 8-packs and 12-packs, with a suggested retail price of $3.89 and $4.99, respectively. A 20 oz. plastic bottle, made from 100 percent recycled materials, retails for $1.39.
Keurig Merges With Dr Pepper Snapple Group
Keurig Green Mountain, a subsidiary of JAB Holding Company, reshaped the beverage landscape overnight in January with the announcement of its $18.7 billion merger with Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS).
Luxembourg-based JAB Holding Company, which in recent years has acquired coffee brands such as Peet’s and Keurig, took a majority interest in the newly formed Keurig Dr Pepper, controlling 87 percent of shares. The remaining 13 percent will be owned by existing DPS shareholders.
As part of the merger, DPS CEO Larry Young will step down for his role but remain with the company as a member of the board of directors. Keurig CEO Bob Gamgort will helm the new company out of Keurig headquarters in Burlington, Mass.
“I can say with confidence that the immediate and long-term opportunities that this transaction is going to provide to our shareholders, our owned and allied brands, our partners and our employees is tremendous,” DPS CEO Larry Young said on a conference call this morning. “KDP will be home to some of the most iconic and consumer-loved beverage brands, both hot and cold. And we’ll have an unrivaled and powerful distribution network that spans traditional retail channels, ecommerce, and on-premise outlets.”
Harmless Harvest Secures Danone Funding
In February, organic coconut beverage brand Harmless Harvest announced it had raised $30 million in growth capital in an investment round led by Danone Manifesto Ventures, the venture arm of French multinational food and beverage corporation Danone.
Danone Manifesto Ventures, which most recently led a $5.5 million funding round for Hawaiian deep ocean water brand Kona Deep in November, joined existing Harmless Harvest shareholders, including Mousse Partners, and new investors like Accel Foods in the round.
“If Douglas and I were to imagine a company that would specifically create an organization whose sole purpose is to metabolize the values of pioneering progressive companies into a global scale, it would be Danone Manifesto Ventures,” wrote Harmless Harvest co-founder Justin Guilbert in an email to BevNET. “We couldn’t be more enthusiastic than to have reached this agreement and position Harmless Harvest to achieve long term success.”
The San Francisco-based company, which markets refrigerated coconut water and probiotic drinks, plans to use the new investment to enhance sustainable production capacity in Thailand, increase brand awareness and widen distribution, according to a press release.
Pepsi Launches Pod-Based Drink Format
After a pilot run in Brazil, PepsiCo’s customizable pod-based beverage format Drinkfinity was introduced in the U.S. exclusively through the brand’s website last month.
Drinkfinity is a beverage system featuring a line of water-enhancer flavor pods designed to be used with a specialized plastic water bottle called a “Vessel.” Each pod contains different functional flavors which consumers can mix with water to “Peel, Pop and Shake,” according to the company, to create customized, better-for-you beverages with different functional benefits.
Speaking to BevNET, Rich Rodriguez, U.S. director of Drinkfinity at PepsiCo, said Drinkfinity is aimed at consumers who have increasingly embraced personalized beverages. The U.S. version of Drinkfinity differs from the Brazilian version, which was designed and launched in the country in 2014. According to Rodriguez, the flavors and the sugar content have been dialed down in order to match consumer preferences in the domestic market.
“We’ve done a fair amount of testing to make sure that it’s on-trend,” Rodriguez said. “The Brazilian product is very sweet and bold in flavor, and we believe that what makes more sense in the U.S. is the portfolio we’re coming out with that we communicate as ‘unapologetically less sweet.’”
The 20 oz. vessel is available for $20 and the pods sell in packs of four and vary in price between $5 and $6.50.
Sunniva Super Coffee Swims With the Sharks
Though they left without a deal, Jordan, Jim and Jake DeCicco, the brothers behind Sunniva’s Super Coffee, held their own when swimming with the sharks.
Sunniva and the DeCiccos were featured on a February 2018 episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” the popular show in which budding entrepreneurs pitch their companies to five experienced investors, or “sharks,” in hopes of securing funding and support.
The brothers were seeking a $400,000 investment in return for a 4.5 percent stake in their brand, which markets a line of energy-boosting coffee drinks made with organic Colombian coffee, lactose-free protein and healthy fats.
Despite interest from the panel, which included Rohan Oza and Barbara Corcoran, an agreement never materialized. In a statement after the show, the company said the experienced gave the company “a wealth of positive feedback, advice, exposure, and lessons learned from their once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Spindrift Raises Money
Massachusetts-based natural sparkling beverage brand Spindrift announced in March the closing of a $10 million round of funding led by private equity firm VMG Partners. The round also included investment from Prolog Ventures, Karp Reilly, and other existing investors.
Spindrift, launched in 2010 as a craft soda company, has grown more than 800 percent over the last 24 months, according to a press release. The new funding, part of an open $15 million raise, comes after the brand completed a $7.2 million raise in January, 2016.
Spindrift CEO Bill Creelman told BevNET that the company’s rapid growth made securing more working capital a primary objective for this funding round.
In a press release, Robin Tsai, principal at VMG and a board member at Spindrift, said, “We’re thrilled by the opportunity to continue our partnership with Spindrift. It is a superb brand, with fantastic products, and a talented and experienced management team.”