Polar Black Jack Tea – a pirate-themed sign of the times


A new tea product from Massachusetts-based Polar Beverages
may offer a sign of the times for the beverage industry.

In January, Polar launched its six-flavor Black Jack Tea
line packaged in 16 oz. pre-priced aluminum cans. If that sounds like Arizona’s
canned tea – a property that Polar distributes -it should.

Gerry Martin, Polar’s vice president of marketing, said the
company decided to create its own big-can tea line because the tea category and
large can category both grew at robust rates in recent years.

Martin said the brand features important differences from
Arizona – the can is 7.5 oz. smaller and priced 11 cents cheaper – but it also
offers a little extra stability to one of New England’s largest independent
beverage distributors.

“There’s always the risk of having an item out there swallowed
up,” Martin said, adding that Arizona is “forever rumored” to be the next
acquisition for one of the industry’s giants.

It wasn’t so long ago that Coca-Cola snapped up Fuze and
vitaminwater, it also bought a 40 percent chunk of Honest Tea just last month.

Martin said Polar deals with a lot of independent brands,
and holds them to high standards on packaging, pricing support and marketing – categories
in which Polar didn’t give itself any slack.

“If we’re asking this of other people, we need to do it
ourselves,” Martin said.

He said Polar has a whole year of activity to support Black
Jack Tea, as well as characters and a running storyline that customers can find
on the back of the can and on the line’s website, blackjacktea.com. The company
also packaged the product with high resolution labels that Martin called the
aluminum can equivalent of high-definition TV screens.

Other News at Polar:

Polar added another in-house brand – Fruit A Peel – to capture
the growing consumer interest in “better for you” beverages, Martin said.

The seltzer water and sweetened fruit-juice mixture will be
available in New England area grocery stores in 1 liter PET bottles. Martin said
the reduced calorie beverage appeals to adults, who’s “taste buds have evolved”
since they were children.