Leveling Up: New Beverage Showdown 14 Finalists Named

It may only be Monday, but for a half dozen emerging beverage brands, the week is already looking up.

Legacy Juice Works, Bear Squeeze, Zen Basil, KRā, Kabaki and Mixwell advanced to the finals of New Beverage Showdown 14 during day one of BevNET Live Winter 2017 at the Loews Beach Hotel West in Santa Monica, Calif., moving one step closer to winning the grand prize of $10,000 in cash and prizes.

The winners emerged from a diverse and exciting field of participants in the semifinal round that showcased products from across the beverage spectrum, from better-for-you sports drinks for children to antioxidant-packed purple tea from Kenya. The group included PHIT Alkaline Mixer, rivvibe, Koffee Reinvented, Sports Juice, AMAZ, and Manzanita & Madrone THC Fizz.

Each of the 12 participating brands has two minutes to pitch their product — from taste to bottle design to retail strategy — to a panel of judges comprised of BevNET CMO Mike Schneider, Tom Larsen, president and GM of Zico, Jordan Gaspar, managing partner at AccelFoods, and Karen Ivanis-Rogers, director of business ventures at Albertsons.

“It really came down to three questions,” Schneider said. “Were they innovative? Did they have the packaging? Did they have a selling proposition?”

Functionality was a key feature among the competing brands. Ingredients like moringa, turmeric, tart cherry, MCT oil and basil seeds were highlighted as brands tailor their offerings to meet consumer demand for products that can address specific health issues like inflammation and digestion, but also promote overall health and wellness.

With so many innovative products, the panel of judges honed in on how the brands communicated their functionality and overall story to consumers. The eventual finalists earned praise for packaging designs, but some, including KRā, received mixed feedback on whether their bold aesthetic choices best communicated their respective products’ key attributes and core audience.

Of the six brands moving on to the final round of the New Beverage Showdown, only one company will ultimately claim the grand prize. Tuesday’s champion will join a select group of past winners such as Rise Coffee Company, Health-Ade, MALK, and Tio Gazpacho.

“[Tomorrow] I’m hoping to see more of an explanation of the market and how they plan to tackle it,” Schneider said. “A lot of the presentations were high level in terms of what their business strategy is. Some of them to me didn’t feel like they had a plan behind their product so I want to hear more about the plan.”

You can catch all the action streaming live on BevNET.com with the first round beginning at 2 p.m. EST. The second round of the finals begins at 5:10 p.m. EST.

Stay tuned to BevNET.com for more coverage from BevNET Live Winter 2017.