Publisher’s Toast: On to 2021… Whew

As I start to type my column, I’m bleary eyed, sleep deprived and full of angst about the state of affairs in our country. This election has crystallized all that is good in America and all that is bad. The polarization, hatred and lies spewed during the campaign season were disheartening, to say the least. Combined with the economic crises and, most important of all, the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a wonder that anyone can have a “business as usual” attitude. I fervently hope that the presidential transition will be smooth and that we can get back to being the great country we have always been.

At this time of the year I like to look back on what has transpired since the start of the year. Since I’m the publisher of a beverage magazine, I’ll try to limit my comments from that perspective. The optimism that was generated at year end, highlighted by our BevNET Live conference, was palpable. So many brands were finally getting, or about to receive funding, to propel them to success in 2020. They shared with me aggressive marketing agendas, new launches and extensions, package refreshes and expansion into new markets.

Old and new categories were flourishing. Newer players like CBD generated buzz, excitement and skyrocketing sales. Waters of all ilk were continuing to reach new heights. The tea and juice categoriesseemed to have a rebirth. Spiked seltzers became the rage and helped revive and drive the spirits category. Coffee brands proliferated on the shelves and generated sales at the register. It was looking like an incredible year for the marketplace.

Then came Covid-19 and the beverage arena ground to a halt. The magnitude of its impact was unlike anything else I observed in my 29 years in the beverage arena. On so many levels, our personal and business lives were tested like no time before. The loss of face to face connection, caused by having to work at home, led to isolation and hindered the creative process. Plans were shelved as everyone went into their bunkers. In so many conversations, I heard the fear that they might not be able to forge forward. Investment came to a halt. It was a bleak time.

Over the past few months, though, I’ve observed an energy and some excitement for the times ahead.

While so many brands won’t see the fruits of their jumping back in until the first quarter of 2021, positivity has resurfaced. Most won’t be able to recoup the six months of the shutdown volume, but they’re hanging in and looking forward to a robust new year.

Hope springs eternal, so I wish all of you a happy, healthy and safe holiday season and a time when we can all be together again.