Beverages a hot topic at SupplySide East


Beverages were a hot topic at SupplySide East, April 26 to 28 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, NJ. BevNET contributed to the beverage focus at the event by organizing and moderating a panel of experts on the topic of shot beverages, featuring Brent Sonnek-Schmelz, chief zen officer of RelaxZen, and Bob Occhifinto, founder and president of NVE Pharmaceuticals.

BevNET’s John McKenna set the stage for Occhifinto and Sonnek-Schmelz by describing the importance of shots as an beverage category. Careful not to pigeon-hole the category as only relating to energy formulations, McKenna explained that shots are now branded for improving relaxation, mental acuity and sexual performance.

NVE’s Occhifinto provide the history behind NVE’s evolution from a small retail health food store specializing in diet and energy supplements into one of the leading co-packers of shots and energy drinks. In addition to its co-packing business, NVE sells its own brand of shots under the Stacker2 brand, which includes the Stacker2 6-Hour line.

Sonnek-Schmelz explained to the audience how his brand, RelaxZen relaxation shots, grew from its conception by Relaxzen’s CEO Nick West, to its current form. The Relaxzen product line includes DAY and NIGHT formulas, and a SPORT formula developed for athletes. Relaxzen sells at retailers such as Duane Reade, Circle K, Shop Rite, Pilot Stores and Walgreens.

In another educational session held on Wednesday, attendees got an update on the current state of the supplement versus beverage categorization issue from Marc Ullman, partner, Ullman, Shapiro & Ullman LLP and Anthony L. Young, partner, Kleinfeld, Kaplan and Becker LLP.

At the heart of the issue is the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) position on what criteria designate a brand as a food (beverage) versus a dietary supplement. Such criteria will potentially affect brands which appear to fit FDA’s definition of a food yet are currently labeled as supplements, or conversely brands which are labeled as foods yet contain ingredients or make claims which would require that they be labeled as dietary supplements.

The supplement versus beverage controversy began when FDA issued a draft guidance document in December of 2009 entitled “Factors that Distinguish Liquid Dietary Supplements from Beverages, Considerations Regarding Novel Ingredients and Labeling for Beverages and Other Conventional Foods.” FDA has shown its teeth in recent weeks by in the form of warning letters sent to several beverage manufacturers which it feels are not properly designated. The manufacturers include brands such as Drank and POM Wonderful.

Concurrent to the educational track was a trade show featuring over 200 exhibitors. For pictures from the show floor, visit our photo gallery.