Held on the final days of summer, last month’s Natural Products Expo East featured a number of beverage brands gearing up for fall weather and the upcoming holiday season. On display at the Baltimore Convention Center were a handful of seasonal items, which despite limited runs on shelves, still require a great deal of development and resources to come to market. In fact, back at Natural Products Expo West in March, Whole Foods held an event auditioning upcoming holiday items nearly nine months before such products would be available in stores.
One such product is Califia Farms’ Pumpkin Spice Latte with cold brew coffee, which is returning for a second season. The product, which made its debut last fall, will see a longer run this time around and be available nationwide at Whole Foods as well as other retailers, including Safeway, Albertsons, Fairway, and Lucky’s. Califia Farms founder and CEO Greg Steltenpohl credited the ongoing explosive growth of the cold brew coffee category — along with the anticipation of all things pumpkin at this time of year — as the driver of the product’s success in 2014 and the justification for its return this year.
“Other than egg nog, [pumpkin is] one of the few flavor profiles that that retailers will really tolerate on a seasonal basis,” Steltenpohl added.
Speaking of egg nog, Califia is also bringing back its annual “Holiday Nog,” a dairy-free offering, to extend its seasonal items through December. Additionally, the company recently announced that its once-seasonal vegan almond milk horchata will now be available year round.
Temple Turmeric founder and CEO Daniel Sullivan is also aiming to take his brand’s two new seasonal flavors beyond their exclusive launch at Whole Foods. Temple unveiled its Holiday Spice Lassi at Expo East, blending holiday flavors like cranberries, dates, mango, nutmeg and cardamom with functional ingredients like quinoa, chia seeds, sacha inchi, a vegan probiotic and the brand’s signature Hawaiian Oana turmeric.
Temple’s second seasonal offering is its Pure Fire Cider Super Tonic, a “multi-hundred-year-old herbal formula made from alchemists,” according to Sullivan. Available in a 9.6 oz. bottle, the product is made with apple cider vinegar and is the first Temple Turmeric product to include horseradish as an ingredient. Like Califia with its almondmilk horchata, Sullivan’s looking to find a more permanent place in Temple’s lineup for his company’s latest additions.
“There’s just so much that goes into the development of these drinks that to get an item on shelves and pull it off in four months, it’s not profitable,” said Sullivan, who cited product formulation, ingredient sourcing, packaging, and food safety, among other parts of the development process. “So the idea is to have a good support system behind these with in-store marketing and social media and drive sales to get them to be able to stay on as permanent items.”
Other companies sampling seasonal items at Expo East included Health-Ade, whose annual “Holiday Cheers” kombucha contains notes of ginger, cloves and chocolate. Cold-pressed juice brand Garden of Flavor also debuted a fall-inspired pumpkin spice vegan nut and seed “mylk,” which has since entered Whole Foods stores in the grocer’s Mid-Atlantic region.