“We’re extremely particular about the ingredients that go into our products,” Slater adds. “We only use all-natural flavors and sweeteners, without ever cutting corners.”


Health and wellness makes its mark

While some processors ride the coattails of trends that have been used and followed for a few years now, others make their mark by revamping what works. And for most companies, what works is a blend of taste and functionality.

“The greatest trend we are seeing is the consumer’s focus on health and wellness. They want a beverage that not only tastes good but one that has functional ingredients to help them live a better lifestyle,” says Diane Estrada, vice president of sales and marketing for V-Labs, Franklin, Tenn., the makers of THiNQ drinks.

THiNQ is an all-natural, multifunctional drink designed to relieve stress and promote wellness for that health-conscious, on-the-go consumer, Estrada says. Made with SAMe, an all-natural mood enhancer, THiNQ also contains 13 herbs, vitamins, electrolytes and essential minerals. In October 2011, the company rolled out a new 12-ounce can in a four-pack carton.

“Our box designs have a perforated top that enables the retailer to easily tear it off and place the box right on the shelf, minimizing labor, with the additional benefit of enhanced verbiage to educate the consumer on the benefits of the product,” adds Estrada.

Likewise, Adina For Life upped the ante of its all-natural, zero-calorie line to include blood orange with mangosteen. The new SKU is made with the company’s proprietary herbal package, which contains lemon balm, valerian, chamomile, hibiscus, basil, lemon verbena, tulsi, rooibos and amalaki extracts. This new flavor comes in 14-ounce, single-serve glass bottles with a suggested retail price of $1.49-$1.69.

“Adina offers an alternative for those consumers concerned about the health risks associated with artificial sweeteners and high-fructose corn syrup,” says Bruce Burke, chief marketing officer for the Norwalk, Conn.-based division of Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s Southwest business unit. “We understand our customers’ demand for healthier products and will build our franchise on the fact that we deliver on that need.”


Tea makers up the ante

“The ready-to-drink iced tea category continues to show strong growth across both multiserve and single-serve packages, all pricing tiers from value to premium, and across the full range of the flavor spectrum, from tea-forward taste profiles to tea and juice drink flavor combinations,” says Eric Fuller, brand director for Brisk Iced Tea, a division of PepsiCo, Purchase, N.Y.

As a result, Brisk introduced a 1-gallon jug in a variety of iced tea and tea/juice Fusion offerings. The launch coincided with the release of the new Star Wars Episode I in 3D.

“We also leveraged the Star Wars partnership on our 1-liter business by developing a consumer promotion called ‘Uncap the App,’” Fullers notes. “Beginning Jan. 4, we featured an image of the Episode 1 villain Darth Maul on one of our highest-volume iced tea offerings — Brisk Raspberry Iced Tea.”

Meanwhile, Turkey Hill Dairy launched SunBrew iced tea, available in 4.75-ounce bottles. According to the Lancaster County, Pa., company owned by retailer Kroger, SunBrew features a home-brewed taste, contains no added preservatives or colors and is made with real cane sugar, tea and pure water. They come in unsweetened and lightly sweetened options.