Sunday, December 21, 2008

Stevia... Is it really the Holy Grail?

Over the past few years, the various labs at Coke, Pepsi, Dr Pepper Snapple, P&G, and Unilever have been testing and learning about Stevia. Work that has been building to this week's announcements from all the bevcos that 2009 will see their first commercial uses of the ingredient.

The natural, non-nutrative sweetener has been a target for beverage companies ever since Clearly Canadian had their success destroyed by the advent of standard nutrition labelling (NLEA) back in the early 90s.

Stevia has been on the radar for a while. It had initial negative press due to a study that said the ingredient put holes into the rat livers. But since then the ingredient has become better understood, and (I guess) the rodents are healthier:

The ingredient itself is known to be tough to work with, and has a bitter aftertaste when used alone. Hence the initial Coke offerings (Sprite Green and an Odwalla flavor) also use some sugar. An interesting start that will allow TCCC to get some real world experience with commericalizing the ingredient at scale.

Within 24 hours both PEP and DPS also said that they would have stevia products in the market in 2009.

So, the Billion Dollar question remains - can stevia end the slide of Carbonated Soft Drinks?

At the surface the argument could be made that stevia will make soft drinks healthier - removing consumer's biggest concern about their consumption.

But, my feeling is that consumers have now experienced a vast variety of taste in different forms and functions, and they like it. Stevia in a CSD cannot stop their decline. But it could slow the decline down...

Creative Commons License
Foods, Fluids and Beyond Blog by Neil Kimberley at www.foodsfluidsand is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

This Just In...

Follow this link for a well researched piece, with a different perspective on the state of Ocean Spray.

... From The Onion.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Battle Of The Snowflakes

Take a walk down the soda aisle at your local supermarket and you will notice that its seasonal packaging time on your favorite 2 Liter bottles and 12 pack wraps.

Starting at Thanksgiving, soft drink marketers struggle to create some relevance for when their products because they are out of season. They have to find a way to remain relevant to the holidays, but not make the product look out of date on December 26th.

The answer has become the winter scene on the label... And this year both Cadbury and Coke have decided to use the snowflake.

While this transition to seasonal packaging looks simple to the retailer and consumer, there is a whole industry of design studios, packaging managers, creative services managers, label printers, brand managers, bottling production managers who have to work together to make it all happen.

This is a lot of work, and since 80% of soft drinks are sold on deal (irrespective of label design)... you have to wonder whether there isn't a better way to use these resources...

Creative Commons License
Foods, Fluids and Beyond Blog by Neil Kimberley at www.foodsfluidsand is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Neutrogena... Energy???

We have become used to all kinds of foods becoming "energy" through added caffeine, B Vitamins or other stimulant like ginseng or guarana. But the latest use of energy has me somewhat stumped.

The beautiful Jennifer Garner appeared on my TV last night (from - the video needs to be manually started) to tell me about Neutrogena Energy night creams.

I applaud the idea of a new energy delivery system but I think that the folks at Neutrogena are missing the reason why "energy" is successful - it provides the user with a tangible functional, noticable benefit. This product has no "buzz" involved.

Apparently the active ingredient is L Carnitine, an amino acid usually associated with fat metabolization in the health food community. Its not an active "pick me up".

Moreover the idea of "Energy + Night Cream" seems like a mismatch. Surely you would use an energy product in the daytime.

Just say'n...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Another Entry in Overt Price Selling

In the main street of Ormskirk, Lancashire is this retailer, who leaves you in no doubt of what they are selling... and why!

Much has been written on the differences of US Vs UK culture on alcohol - now you can ad the economy as a driver!

There is also the backdrop of this Mintel study .

The View From Across The Pond

Was in the UK last week - and a few things stuck me.

Traditionally the amount of cold space for beverages in immediate consumption has been very limited, and the selection very small compared to your average US convenience store. Well that is changing, with cold space plentiful in new motorway service areas (an area where the US could learn a thing or two) and Gas/C Stores. And now cold drinks are making their way into places like WH Smith. Here's the set from a store in St Helens.

Its notable how many domestic UK brands are in this set Lucozade, Lucozade Sport, Irn Bru (the national drink of Scotland - full of sugar and caffeine), Oasis (the euro Snapple), Ribena (blackcurrant drink) and Vimto (a black fruit punch with pride of Lancashire. While this a little atypical of the country (no Red Bull, Coke and Coke Zero etc) it is interesting to see domestic brands in prime retail space (the checkout is 5' to the right of this cooler.