After Day One of BevNET Live’s summer session took a look at the plight of the entrepreneur and an exploration of some of the keys to finding success in the beverage business as an upstart, Day Two began with a data-driven dive.
Andrew Henkel, vice president of growth solutions for SPINS, the leading market research provider for the natural and specialty products industries, guided entrepreneurs across the natural beverage landscape.
In examining the trajectory of growth in refreshment beverages, Henkel took a step-by-step approach to which channels, categories and product types are driving growth. The findings revealed that growth is coming out of natural and specialty channels — which Henkel called “innovation channels” — and that shelf stable functional beverages, water and ready-to-drink tea and coffee, and natural beverages, respectively, are helping grow the overall pie.
Looking beyond the numbers, Henkel identified on-the-go refrigerated non-dairy beverages, regional kombuchas, animal-based beverages like bone broth, chocolate drinks, and activated charcoal as promising categories worth keeping an eye on.
Shen Tong, co-founder of incubator fund Food Future, would follow, taking on the topic of impact investing and his goal of making changes of substance in the world’s food supply. Joining the former Chinese dissident and BevNET Editor-in-Chief Jeff Klineman on the stage were Jomaree Pinkard of Hella Co. and John Houseal of GIVN Water, two likeminded brands looking to achieve social change by way of the beverage business.
In a sit-down with BevNET Managing Editor Ray Latif, Shauna Martin, the founder and CEO of Daily Greens, and Justin Trout, co-founder and COO of Health-Ade Kombucha, discussed strategy for attacking the dominant leaders in their respective categories (Suja, GT’s).
“In our category, the leader is beloved, and people like what they have, to an extent,” said Trout. “But we’ve found that when we give them a truly different option from what they already have – something that looks, tastes, talks, acts different – and we believe, better, it’s been shown that we’re bringing in customers by the boatfull.”
Following a networking break and commencing the finals of the New Beverage Showdown, Daniel Lohman led a presentation on category management and how smaller, entrepreneurial brands can use that discipline to level the playing field with their larger, more established, competitors.
“One of the things people forget is that when you want to shoot for a target you need to know what that target is,” said Lohman. “You need to understand your retailer. You need to understand what your retailer’s strategy is for your category. Are they trying to grow sales in your category? Are they trying to compete more effectively in your category? Are they using your category to supplement another category?”
ZICO founder Mark Rampolla and Chris Hickey, president and CEO of Isopure, explored the sale of their companies – Zico to Coca-Cola and Isopure to Glanbia – in a sit-down with Klineman, discussing the lessons learned throughout the process.
“If you’re so focused on an exit it likely won’t come,” said Hickey, who likened the process to getting into shape. “But if you’re focused on building a fantastic brand and a fantastic business, an exit partner is going to come.”
Up next was Renny Wilmer of Compass Group USA, who discussed how the current trends permeating the food and beverage industries are affecting the leading foodservice supplier, which services some of the country’s largest offices, universities, arenas, hospitals and museums, among other entities. Wilmer explored those trends and discussed the opportunities for brands as a mechanism for exposing new brands to consumers in various foodservice channels.
“It’s a great small format, it’s very intimate when you think about the community involved at a college campus or an office,” Wilmer said. “It’s self contained so you can make an impact with your brand and get people talking about it.”
Day Two came to a close with a panel on strategics, featuring representatives from three beverage giants – Coca-Cola, Nestle Waters North America and WhiteWave Foods – as well as investment advisor Michael Burgmaier of Whipstitch Capital. And while their agendas vary in nature – Nestle being focused on building the portfolio, WhiteWave looking at high-growth, on-trend companies, and Coke seeking to acquire the next potential billion-dollar brand, all panelists stressed the importance of the role of strategics in today’s current beverage landscape.