Twelve new beverage startups faced off today, pitching their products to a panel of expert judges during the semifinal round of New Beverage Showdown 17 at BevNET Live Summer 2019, but only six were selected to move on to the final round.
The finalists include THC and CBD infused drink Cann + Bottl; CBD infused sparkling drink Cloud Water; tea maker LATTEA; sparkling botanical beverage brand Petal; non-alcoholic, CBD-infused mocktail Proposition Cocktail Co.; and herbal tonic Sunwink. The brands will compete tomorrow in the final round for a chance to win a $10,000 ad package.
The group of finalists advanced from a field of 12 companies that also included CBD-infused sparkling drink Bimble; sparkling water Dr. Priestley’s Fizzy Water; CBD-infused tea elixir Ma; sparkling tea Minna; sparkling coffee VIVIC; and yaupon beverage YAYAYA.
The brands on stage reflected several emerging beverage trends, the most prominent among them CBD and cannabis. Five of the competing brands featured CBD as a key ingredient in their drinks, with entrepreneurs pitching the cannabinoid as a potent stress reliever. Natural drinks also shined on stage with Petal, Sunwink, and YAYAYA providing different takes on botanical and elixir trends, while other competitors played in fast-growing categories such as sparkling water and coffee.
Judges for the semifinal round included BevNET CMO Mike Schneider, Coke Venturing & Emerging Brands (VEB) group director Bill Ford, High Brew Coffee CMO Mari Johnson, and Cambridge Companies SPG COO and partner Filipp Chebotarev.
VEB served as the official sponsor of New Beverage Showdown 17.
Speaking with BevNET after the competition, Johnson package design and founder stories played a significant role in the decision making process, particularly as many of the brands competed with similar platforms. Johnson said the performance of the entrepreneurs on stage played a vital role in making tie-breaking decisions.
“There were a lot of decisions I thought I’d made when we were sampling the products that once the presentations were made, we got to meet these people and hear more about them it certainly affected my opinions,” Johnson said.
In determining which CBD brands would move on, Johnson said taste and packaging were important factors and singled out the unique alcohol alternative platforms of Cann + Bottl — which combines low content of THC and CBD to create a psychoactive effect that won’t overpower the consumer — and Proposition, a non-intoxicating line of CBD-infused mocktails.
The New Beverage Showdown 17 champion will be announced tomorrow at the end of day two of BevNET Live Summer 2019. The winner will join past New Beverage Showdown champions such as HopTea, Tio Gazpacho, RISE Brewing Co., Health-Ade, and MALK, among others.
The final round of pitches can be viewed live on BevNET.com. Three of the finalists will deliver their pitches at 10:45 am. EST/7:45 a.m. PST. The second round of pitches will begin at 1:30 p.m. EST/10:30 a.m. PST, and the winner will be announced at 2:50 p.m. EST/11:50 p.m. PST.