For example, "low-carb" foods and beverages in almost any size, shape and variety were a big item. And, let's not forget all the "half-the-sugar" beverages that debuted. Some of these were carbonated, but there certainly were a decent number of no- to mid-calorie non-carbonated juices, drinks and even iced teas booting their full-sugar counterparts off shelves across the country.
It has long been a tradition for dairies to manufacture juices and drinks, as dairies have all the right equipment to do so. But, conservatism prevails, and dairies typically stick with the basics such as orange juice, iced tea and "bug juice," with the latter being highly sweetened, flavored water that is void of anything nutritious.
If the dairy industry wants to be an active player in the $700 billion global beverage business, it better get innovative.
Smith Dairy Products Co., Orrville, Ohio, decided to give consumers what they want with their orange juice, and that is calcium. Everyone knows that the most efficient way to get calcium is to drink milk; however, Smith Dairy wants to make sure all its customers are getting enough calcium. So, the company recently introduced Smith's 100% Orange Juice with calcium to provide an alternative calcium delivery system.
"This is part of our company's continuing initiative to provide healthy products," says Bill McCabe, v.p. of marketing.
Dairies can also readily offer consumers a lower-carbohydrate version of orange juice thanks to turn-key systems offered by suppliers. For example, St. Louis-based Dairy House has trademarked the brand CarbO-™, which can be used with its proprietary lower-carbohydrate orange beverage product that is sweetened with sucralose. An 8-oz serving of the finished beverage contains 50 calories and 13g carbohydrates, as compared to traditional orange juice, which has 110 calories and 26g carbohydrates. CarbO- is sold to dairies as a concentrate. Dairies simply add water and process and package like other beverages. Here's an added perk: Packaging graphics are available that sport the CarbO- logo, design, ingredients and Nutrition Facts panel. Talk about easy!
At the recent IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo, suppliers were blending all types of flavors and juices to make refreshing beverages that are in step with today's trends. Flavored tea was a popular offering. (Make sure you read this month's Ingredient Technology feature on p. 40 to learn about the health benefits associated with tea.) Suppliers sampled a range of tea beverages including pomegranate black tea and white green tea. Mark my word, next summer will be the year of an array of pomegranate-flavored beverages. Iced tea will also continue to grow in popularity.
Looking for more great ideas? It's not too late to make plans to attend BevExpo 2004 in Tampa, Fla., from September 29 to October 1. According to Beverage Marketing Corp., New York, single-serve juices and juice drinks are growing faster than multi-serve packages. Ten years ago these would not have been encouraging words for dairy processors. That has changed as a result of so many manufacturers having single-serve bottling capacity.
BevExpo, through both the symposia and exposition floor, promises to provide beverage marketers ideas on new added-value products including trends in fortification with vitamins, protein and energy enhancers, as well as new twists on favorites, such as pink lemonade and white cranberry.
BevExpo is not an event for retailers. Every aspect of this new event is focused on beverage manufacturers, bottlers, product formulators, marketers and distributors and the suppliers that support this dynamic industry. See you there.