SPECIAL REPORT: Sugar Tax and Reformulation Needs Spurs Beverage Innovation

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13 Jun 2016 --- Today's consumers are frequently looking for something better, more convenient and healthier, not only in terms of food, but hugely in beverage consumption too. With the UK's proposed sugar tax and reformulation of beverages being a hot topic of conversation in the industry, it’s no secret that natural sweeteners are becoming a popular and effective alternative.

In recent times, the beverage industry has seen some promising innovative technologies and methods that have ramped up the competition in these areas, FoodIngredientsFirst takes a closer look at some of the emerging designs and concepts shining through to meet these ever changing consumer demands.

Sugar free hydration
Soft drinks innovator AG Barr is reinventing water with their new Rubicon Spring range, which combines sparkling spring water with pure fruit juice and has only 15 calories or less per bottle. 
 
"We undertook our biggest ever research program to fully understand the key drivers behind changing attitudes towards health,” says Adrian Troy, AG Barr’s Head of Marketing, on the new sparkling drinks range.
 
“The research highlighted an 18% growth in the number of carbonates shoppers who are also buying water and a 19% rise in the number who only buy water. Many of these consumers are primarily looking to reduce their sugar and calorie intake,” said Troy.
 
“What makes Rubicon Spring so exciting is that it appeals to consumers across different categories. For those wanting a healthier alternative to a fizzy drink or fruit drink, it has all of the low calorie and healthier benefits of spring water. And for those coming from water or flavored water where taste can often be bland and disappointing, it has a big hit of Rubicon flavor," he claims.
 
Each of the four full-on flavored variants – Strawberry Kiwi, Lemon Lime, Orange Mango and Black Cherry Raspberry – has no added sugar, contains vitamins and green tea extract and is made with natural flavors and colors.
 
Rubicon Spring has performed well so far in consumer research with 74% of all consumers saying they would buy it. Troy adds: “Our consumer research has helped us to create a new range of drinks that really deliver against what shoppers want – full-on flavor, hydration and only 15 calories or less per bottle.”
 
Blast cap technology
Another innovator looking to tap into sugar free beverages is Hey Like Wow who launched in the UK in earlier this year. Hey Like Wow is a revolutionary soft drinks concept that combines sugar free hydration with delicious, natural flavors and with no artificial colors, sweeteners or preservatives. The new range of drinks is set to shake up the UK's current soft drinks with its cutting edge design.
 
Aside from its sugar free formulation, Hey Like Wow's innovation goes beyond the product ingredients with its innovative blast-cap technology that delivers the ingredients to pure, natural mineral water at the moment of consumption, ensuring maximum efficacy of the vitamins and the removal of preservatives. The high-impact and differentiated brand packaging and structural bottle design have been created to convey the unique nature of the concept and to appeal to both kids and adults.Click to Enlarge
 
In anticipation of the launch, one of the founders of Hey Like Wow comments: “The war on sugar is one of the key issues being faced by food and drink manufacturers and retailers.”
 
“As consumers, we were frustrated by the soft drinks brands which promote themselves as healthy, yet in reality were anything but. It was clear to us that radical innovation was needed.”
 
“We have brought together some of the most dynamic players in the drinks manufacturing and cap technology industries to develop a range of products that look and taste great, but which have genuine health properties. We are proud to be able to launch a range that achieves everything which we set out to do – no sugar, no artificial sweeteners, no preservatives, natural fruit flavorings, and added vitamins. These products really meet a market and consumer need. What is more, the experience of releasing the active ingredients through the blast-cap top makes people genuinely stop and say wow!”
 
The range of drinks features eight products and two bottle sizes of 500ml and 250ml, with a selection of fresh and fruity contemporary flavors, including Hibiscus, Grape and Pear, Lemon, Green Tea and Elderflower, and Dragonfruit and Apple.
 
Hey Like Wow plans to grow their brand globally international markets are already being targeted and a launch in the USA is expected to follow on from this.
 
Convenience and on-the-go consumption
Wine Innovations Ltd have developed a unique solution to serving and enjoying wine on the go, whether you’re at an outdoor event, traveling or indeed anywhere that glass containers are impractical or fast service is required. The Intrepid Fox pre-filled ‘wine in a glass’ product meets the demands of the events and catering industries. The product can be rapidly and easily Click to Enlargeserved at busy bars and concession stands, while it’s easy to carry design ensures that customers are safe, and guarantees a non-spill return journey from the bar.
 
The fully recyclable, PET plastic glass is sealed with a peelable foil lid, and can be stored for up to one year. In closely resembling a regular wine glass, Intrepid Fox’s design has a greater aesthetic appeal than traditional plastic cups.
 
“Convenience is becoming more important in the beverage industry, due in part to the continued decline in traditional pub sales. As more and more people are looking for value for money (and that doesn’t necessarily mean spending less), products like the Intrepid Fox single-serve offer consumers the opportunity to enjoy good quality wine without the need to purchase a full bottle,” Lambert tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
 
In terms of the benefits to bartenders, there are many: the Intrepid Fox saves a significant amount of time in speed of serve, reducing opportunity costs / increasing potential sales dramatically. The product also offers a no-fuss and fully recyclable package, and of course there are no spillages possible.
 
How popular can we expect the wine goblets to be this summer? “Very,” claims Lambert, “Outside of our normal customers, we are finding more and more events seeking the product out as a cost-effective and convenient solution for wine serves. This summer should prove to be a great success for the product.”
 
Fast pour technology
Using a unique patented valve system in the bottom of the glass, the Reverse Tap is a new innovative design which ensures that the correct amount of beer is dispensed into the glass every time, resolving the main disadvantages of the classic system.
 
The twin reverse tap is specially designed to cover large volume sales. It has integrated software linked to a command panel that allows different filling options depending on the size of the cup and adjusts the amount of beer foam. The software also keeps track of the amount of beers sold and status of the beer keg.Click to Enlarge
 
“It's a south Korean concept for increasing wet sales by changing the traditional method of putting liquid into a cup. By filling from the Base it pushing the air out without resistance,” the Director of Reverse Tap, Simon Parkinson, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
 
“The Reverse Tap unit fits like any normal conventional pouring system, it has two pipes and it requires the same as any standard bar. Gas, cooling and a keg,” claims Parkinson.
 
The unit is simple to install and it is easy to operate with little training required, aimed primarily at the outdoor events market and anywhere where there is high volume of beer trade, the unit can dispense a pint in around 4 seconds and enables the staff to do other functions such as billing whilst the dispensing takes place.
 
A 7” high definition display on the front of the unit allows for information or advertising, whilst the display at the back enables you to control the setting of foam head. Reverse Tap’s Unit also accurately records the amount of pints or cups dispensed.
 
Existing customers worldwide report up to 30% increase in sales and corresponding profit primarily due to the speed of dispensing but also because of reduced wastage. “We have had an amazing response so far,” says Parkinson, We are doing some trials with some famous establishments over the next few months, so that's one to watch out for.”
 
Edible six pack can rings
Conventional six-pack rings have long been known to cause havoc with marine wildlife and the effects of ingesting the plastic can rings can be fatal to animals. Even though the rings are made from low-density polyethylene and designed to break down under sunlight within 90 days, according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) they are still endangering wildlife, entangling them, causing suffocation and even starvation due to a reduction in feeding ability.
 
With the aim of changing the environmental impact of these troublesome rings, Florida-based craft beer brand, Saltwater Brewery have collaborated with New York-based ad agency We Believers to create 100 per cent biodegradable, compostable, edible, and plastic-free six-pack holder that is made out of wheat and barley. The six-pack packaging design, instead of killing animals, feeds them.Click to Enlarge
 
Chris Gove, President and Co-Founder of Saltwater Brewery, told FoodIngredientsFirst that they decided to tackle the issue head on and make a statement for the whole beer industry to follow. “Wheat and barley which are by-products of the beer making process, are the major components of the material we are using,” says Gove, “We have started the process to file patents globally for the new material, so we cannot divulge the full list of ingredients used in making the edible can rings.”
 
“The product takes about 60 to 90 days to disintegrate when it's in contact with water, and this means in the ocean or a pool, not a household fridge or an industrial supermarket one. Other than that, it withstands similar to the way a carton box would,” he says.
 
Gove also noted that 3D printing allowed Saltwater Brewery to expedite design iterations. “It was much more easily accessible during the design and prototype phase, as we could make the product faster and didn't have to wait as long,” he added.
 
Overview
The beverage industry is ever changing with many manufacturers looking to tap into consumers interests and needs of convenience and health trends. As the sugar tax issue looms on, especially in the UK and if it does have an effect on the global obesity problem, there may well be other countries following closely behind.
 
For now, suppliers and consumers are likely to see the markets change in relation to beverages, with technology always on the up and up we can always expect more from this multimillion dollar industry.
 
By Elizabeth Kenward and Contributing Editor Liesbeth Thijssen

To contact our editorial team please email us at editorial@cnsmedia.com

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