The Great Recycling Con Job?

We are all today brought up with the belief that recycling is important. Experts, people of power, and organizations constantly tell us that recycling is vital if we want to ‘save the planet.’ However, the reality is far more complex, and there’s a lot more to it than you might think.

First of all, when we’re environmentally conscious, we are not only saving the planet, we are saving ourselves. It’s presumptuous to think that any of our individual actions can destroy or save the planet on a global level. We are just one living organism among a whole host of living organisms on Earth that has occupied it for millions of years. They all came and went, and the planet is still here. We are a mere second in the entire existence of the world. 

In essence, all the bad we do to the planet will only lead to our own extinction, and the Earth will continue to exist long after our demise.

But besides the fact that we are not saving the planet when we recycle, we are also not really recycling. At least not in the way we are told. You want to know why? It’s a long story, but by the end of this post, you’ll know the real truth about recycling – the one no one will tell you.

Before we begin, you have to understand how recycling works in this day and age. Let’s begin:

How Recycling Works

Recycling has been around for long enough that the very word has come to symbolize one thing – turning something that is no longer useful anymore into something new instead of throwing it away. But how does the recycling process work exactly?

We, regular citizens, throw our recyclable waste into the eponymous blue bin instead of the regular garbage can. A recycling truck comes and picks up the recyclable waste we throw away. The truck then takes the garbage to the recycling plant. There, a very complicated process happens through which all of that garbage is turned into raw materials that can then be turned into something completely new.

Naturally, the process is not endless. Every recyclable product is usually down-cycled, which means that the new product can never be the same as the original. For example, when old newspapers are recycled, the paper will still contain residue ink, and the fibers within the paper will be much shorter and weaker. For that reason, the recycled material won’t be as desirable for the same product, but it can still be used for something else. The same thing happens with most other products. And after a couple of rounds through the recycling processes, the material will reach a point where it will no longer be usable. So, returning to our example of paper, after it’s been recycled repeatedly, the paper will no longer be usable and can only be discarded.

However, that doesn’t mean that some products can’t be up-cycled, because they can. By being smart, we can turn certain products into even better ones. For example, one could make a whole furniture piece out of old plastic or aluminum cans and a bunch of newspapers. Even old wood can be reused to create something new and equally beautiful. However, in the majority of cases, products are only down-cycled and eventually become unusable.

So, is that the truth about recycling? Well, yes, but there is still more to it. This is just a lesser-known fact about recycling, but there is still the big truth that will completely alter your opinion on recycling.

What the Companies Don’t Want You to Know About Recycling

Recycling Left To Rot (Austrailia)

As it turns out, there is a lot that companies aren’t saying. It’s as if they are covering up the big truth, or several of them. The biggest one is the fact that not all plastic is recyclable. This is important because the biggest polluter among the waste we create is plastic. The main reason for this is the amount of plastic we create and how long it takes for it to decompose.

For example, it takes only two weeks for paper to decompose, which is why paper garbage is not a big problem in the world. The real problem is the amount of trees we chop down to make it. But I digress. Organic waste decomposes fairly quickly as well, from a few weeks to a couple of months. The real problem is the materials that take very long to decompose. For instance, nylon fabric takes up to 40 years to decompose, while rubber takes as much as 80 years.

But all of these relatively common products are nothing in comparison to plastic. It takes plastic a whopping 450 years to decompose! Once you take into account that plastic was invented in 1907, you quickly realize that none of the plastic that has ever been produced has decomposed by now. All of it is still here. And do you know how much of it? The latest study from 2017 states that 91% of all plastic never gets recycled. That’s around 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic, and all of it is now waste. What’s more, only 12% of all the plastic that has ever been made has been incinerated. The rest of it is polluting our land and the world’s oceans.

According to National Geographic, A whopping 91% of plastic isn’t recycled, even though we put them in those blue bins! Many mixed plastic and paper cartons (Tetra Pak for example) do not get recycled, contributing to 78 million tons of packaging waste in U.S. landfills as of 2015.

To an extent, this is our fault. But mostly, it is the fault of the brands that create plastic products. For example, Coca Cola has recently been named as the world’s biggest plastic polluter for 2019 – again. An audit that was conducted by Break Free From Plastic, an environmental justice group, has shown that Coca Cola makes 43% of all plastic waste. Nestle and then Pepsi follow Coca Cola as the world’s biggest plastic polluters.

The problem with all of this is that not even the previously mentioned 450-year mark is certain. We don’t know for sure how long it takes for plastic to decompose as none of it has existed long enough to decompose. Therefore, 450 years is just an estimate.

Now, most of us believe that we are doing good when we recycle plastic. So, in essence, if all of us were to start recycling, there will be no plastic waste in the world, right? Well, that’s very wrong. Remember what we said before? The part that mentioned that not all plastic is recyclable? We were talking about the plastic that’s put in the blue bins – the one that’s recyclable according to their label. As it turns out, out of the seven types of plastic that are ‘recyclable’, five of them hardly get recycled at all. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), out of all the plastic that was put up for recycling in 2017, only 8.4% of it was ultimately recycled. The other 91.6% went to the many landfills and into the ocean. The same report from the EPA states that, on average, 50% of all other waste is usually recycled. So yes, the biggest issue is plastic.

If you think this is already very bad, you will be surprised to know that it used to be better, at least for the United States. It seems that the US used to send about 20 million tons of garbage to China, and they were the ones who were supposed to deal with it. But in the end, they decided that they were not going to do our recycling for us. The same happened in the Philippines and Malaysia. As it turns out, these countries began to have their own environmental issues when it comes to waste. Now, many states or counties in the US don’t even have good recycling programs anymore because of this.

This brings us to the second big truth.

What the FTC Doesn’t Want You to Know About Recycling

The second big truth about recycling involves the FTC or the Federal Trade Commission. As you are probably already aware, most products we buy have that small green triangle symbol that denotes that the packaging is recyclable.

The FTC is the one that allows companies to put this symbol on their packaging. With that in mind, you would expect the commission to have some specific and strict rules which force the companies to create fully recyclable packaging. But alas, that’s as far from the truth as one could get.

The rules and guidelines set by the FTC are very complicated, so I won’t get into them as I don’t even understand them entirely. But what I do get and what it all boils down to is that companies can find many loopholes and vague rules that allow them to put the little triangular symbol on almost anything. And what ends up happening is that a significant portion of the products that boast that symbol still don’t get recycled in the end.

The best example of this is the famous Tetra Pak packaging that’s widely used across the globe, not just in America. As it turns out, Tetra Pak is not as recyclable as we are led to believe. According to the regulations set by the FTC, it is recyclable, but according to common sense, it’s not. That’s because the process used to recycle Tetra Pak is overly complicated and rarely used. Plus, parts of the Tetra Pak don’t get recycled. The result is that a lot of the Tetra Pak packages end up in landfills or the ocean as not all of it is recycled.

Paper, plastic, and aluminum are layered together to make cartons: A typical shelf-stable carton averages 74 percent paper, 22 percent plastic, and 4 percent aluminum. A familiar form of this packaging is unrefrigerated soup or wine cartons.

Refrigerated cartons skip the aluminum and usually contain an 80 percent paper and 20 percent plastic combination to hold in the liquid. The Carton Council of Canada provides extensive information about the composition of different types of cartons and their recyclability.

Aseptic

Source:  Carton Council

Tetra Pak is just one example. Many other products are allowed to have recyclable labels on them, and yet they rarely end up being recycled. Even though that’s the case, the companies that create these products want us to believe that recycling is good and vital for us. By doing that, they keep us wanting to buy their products. Because for as long as we are incredibly eco-friendly, we will continue to purchase their products, knowing that what we throw them in the big blue bin will that will send them to the recycling plants. It’s a win-win situation, the companies make money, and we are all eco-friendly in the end. But, as you can see, we aren’t, not really.

So, if so much of the garbage we make ends up in a landfill or the ocean, is there even a point to recycling? Yes, there is.

Key Takeaways

Even though the big truth is that so little of what’s supposed to be recycled ends up being recycled, it’s still vital for us to keep recycling our waste. None of this changes the fact that a lot of the garbage we create ends up in the recycling plant. And even though a large portion of it doesn’t, that shouldn’t mean we should stop trying altogether. The little effort we make still means something. And it’s not like we can stop buying everything just because we know it might not get recycled.

What we really need is for the FTC to start making better rules. We need those guidelines to be stricter so that companies are forced to create products that will always end up recycled. We also need them to enforce real penalties and impose massive fees for those that don’t follow the guidelines.

However, we also need companies to start finding ways to deal with the plastic and other waste they create that ends up in the landfills and oceans. They are the ones causing the biggest problem with the waste crisis we have today.

We also need consumers to buy less plastic.  Switch to cans and glass whenever you can. Almost everything you can buy in plastic is available in glass or cans.  Ask your retailer to purchase more can and glass beverages.  You have responsibility too.

I feel that the first step towards real change is for all of us to learn the whole truth. Once we do, we can start spreading it. The more people who know the truth and react to it, the more the government and the companies can work towards fixing the mess they created.

In the meantime, you should keep following my blog because more stories like this one are going to follow!

The History of the Beverage Industry (Part 7): The Brands and Concepts That Failed (Part 1)

New Coke Don Keough and Robert Goizueta

In our previous articles (that’s a lot actually, never thought it would go so far!), I discussed a lot. I talked about many brands and many beverage types that found success across the globe.

I discussed the small beginnings of the energy drink industry, for example, and how several energy drink brands reached high levels of success. I also talked about bottled water and how carbonated drinks were invented.

That’s just a small part, and you should go back and take a good look at all those previous blogs that discussed the massive expansion of the beverage industry and the rise of popular brands we know and love today.

However, not everything is excellent in this industry. Plenty of beverages, brands, and concepts ended up being massive failures, and in today’s piece, I wanted to shine a light on these as well. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the most notable failures of the beverage industry.

The New Coke That Failed Tremendously

As you already know, Coca-Cola is a massive brand, not just in the beverage industry but overall. It mostly has to do with the unique formula they developed more than a hundred years ago.

That formula was a success, and it’s bizarre when you think about the time when they tried to change it. That happened back in 1985 when the great war between Coca-Cola and Pepsi was at its height.

Coca-Cola needed a change as their bitter rival Pepsi rose in popularity in the 80s, and their market share was reaching Coke’s. The change they decided to make was in the very formula itself. The company created the New Coke with an entirely new formula, which was a first in almost a century of Coca-Cola’s existence.

As soon as the drink was created and shipped to stores, the fans went crazy. Coca-Cola wanted to bring about a great, positive change, but the result was the very opposite. The backlash was tremendously bad, with only 13% of people liking the new taste. People started petitions, launched campaigns, and even called the company, all to get Coca-Cola to bring back the old flavor everyone loved.

The company went all-in with the marketing. The campaign was terrible in hindsight, or at least the Bill Cosby commercial, which certainly didn’t age well!

However, only two and a half months later, the old familiar taste was back, and the fans calmed down. The failure was still big, and Pepsi benefited greatly from their chief rival’s disaster. Unfortunately for them, once the old Coke formula was back, so was the success of Coca-Cola. Fast forward to several decades in the future, and Coca-Cola is a much bigger brand compared to Pepsi, despite the failure from 1985.

The Quick Failure of Crystal Pepsi

Crystal Pepsi

Coca-Cola is not the only one with majors fails; Pepsi has also had their own mishaps, especially when you consider their Crystal Pepsi debacle.

The early 1990s saw the rise of the clear-soda popularity, and Pepsi wanted to get in the game. They did it by creating Crystal Pepsi – a caffeine-free drink that was supposed to get people to associate it with health and purity. The beverage was also quite similar to the regular Pepsi, as the taste was almost identical. The only significant difference was the absence of the caramel color, which should have made the drink less acidic in its taste.

The initial response was very positive, and the fans were happy with the drink. The success even prompted Coca-Cola to release its own clear-soda drink – the Tab Clear. However, Tab Clear was specifically designed to sabotage Pepsi by destroying both itself and Crystal Pepsi. The strategy was this: Tab Clear was a low-selling product designed to fail. It was marketed as a sugar-free drink and associated with Crystal Pepsi to make Pepsi’s drink appear sugar-free as well, even though it wasn’t. The strategy was largely successful, and both drinks were mostly dead within half a year.

Orbitz – One of the Biggest Failures in the Beverage Industry

Orbitz

In 1996, the Clearly Canadian Beverage Corporation, a popular Canadian flavored sparkling water producer, introduced its lava-lamp beverage called Orbitz. The drink had floating edible balls that were essentially suspended in the liquid, prompting the lava-lamp association. In earnest, I was involved with this one and I thought it was going to be bigger than Coke! Ooops!

Orbitz was marketed as something unique, a drink that was supposed to be a Big Bang in the industry. However, consumers were not thrilled, and the drink was discontinued in only one year’s time.

Why? Well, it seems that the taste was the biggest issue. Orbitz wasn’t tasty at all. Many people compared it to cough syrup and ‘old water from a flower vase.’ If that weren’t enough, the branding was a bit confusing to people as well. Several flavors didn’t make much sense to consumers, so very few people were actually able to imagine what the taste would be like once they tried it.

Orbitz went all-in with the novelty and uniqueness factor, but without anything else. That’s the main reason why there was an initial interest that quickly died off once enough people tasted the drink and realized it wasn’t good.

The Short Life of Sprite Remix

Sprite Remix

Sprite Remix was an initially popular variant of Sprite, released by Coca-Cola in 2002. It was a colorless, caffeine-free, Sprite-based drink that eventually came in several different flavors that were remixes of Sprite, and each of them tasted significantly different from the original.

The taste was good to many fans, and the sales went well for a while. However, only three years later, in 2005, the Coca-Cola Company decided to discontinue the drink. The main reason was poor sales.

However, the drink got a revival in 2015 in the form of its Tropical Sprite Remix flavor that was soon renamed Sprite Tropical Mix.

Pepsi Blue – Blue Isn’t Always Great

Pepsi Blue

It seems that the biggest brands fail the most, which is no wonder, as they are the ones releasing the most beverages and conducting the most experiments.

One such experiment was Pepsi Blue, a soft drink that was supposed to compete with Coca-Cola’s Vanilla Coke. It was released in 2002 with a completely blue color that was its discerning characteristic. However, it was also the reason why the drink failed.

In 2004, it came to light that the drink was colored with something called Blue 1 – a food-coloring agent that’s very controversial in many countries around the world. It was banned in several countries as well because it causes allergic reactions in certain people.

Blue Pepsi was very popular because of its blue color that attracted many. But it also gained momentum because of a unique taste that was described by many as something like blueberries, raspberries, and even cotton candy.

The drink is no longer produced, but it can still be found in the Philippines.

Why Hubba Bubba Soda?

A lot of people love bubble gum, but I doubt that they like bubble gum flavor in their sodas. However, that wasn’t the thought behind the Hubba Bubba Soda that came to be in 1988. It was made by a movie producer named Steve Roeder, who made it by using bubble gum snow cone syrup.

It might have been a good idea at the time, and it was an exciting novelty to many people. But it still died relatively quickly. It was discontinued in 1990 due to poor sales, most likely because no one wants to drink bubble gum!

The Infamous Non-Alcoholic Coors Drink

Coors Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water

The famous Molson Coors Company creates beer, as many of you probably already know. Their main differentiator is the fact that they use pure Rocky Mountain spring water to make their beers, as the company has been saying since 1873.

It seems that they wanted to use that differentiator to enter an entirely different market – the sparkling water market. Thus, the Coors Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water was introduced in 1990. It was regular sparkling water with no alcohol in it. However, as the Coors fans knew the company to be an alcohol manufacturer, they were entirely confused with this product.

The bottled water market was booming at the time, and it stands to reason why Coors wanted a piece of the pie. However, it’s entirely baffling why they mainly targeted their existing consumers who were interested in the company for its beers and nothing else. Their fans simply didn’t care for Coors sparkling water, which is the main reason why the drink failed tremendously, despite the heavy marketing. So, two years after the drink was launched, it was abandoned entirely.

McCain’s Boku – the Beverage for Children Goes to Adults

Boku

Until McCain Citrus Inc made the Boku juice in 1990, the entire U.S. juice box market was oriented towards children. However, Boku was made to target adults, and it was packaged in a way to appeal to adults without making them look childish while drinking the juice.

The marketing was well designed, and the drink became popular once the company hired the famous comedian Richard Lewis. He became their spokesperson and appeared in several commercials that were often more popular than the drink itself!

The beverage was popular nevertheless, but once the initial craze settled down, it went into obscurity. That happened some five years after it was introduced, and the company attempted to bring it back to popularity by targeting children with their new ads. Unfortunately, the strategy was unsuccessful, and the drink only remained in stores due to nostalgia. However, that wasn’t enough, and Boku was discontinued in 2003.

And this ad starring Richard Lewis is always fun to watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JEbnWl8iz0

An Energy Drink Soda Hybrid

Vault Soda

Coca-Cola Company envisioned and made Vault as a hybrid of energy drinks and regular sodas in 2005. They also made it to compete with Pepsi’s massively popular Mountain Dew.

It was an interesting drink that was marketed well with the slogan ‘Drinks like a soda, kicks like an energy drink!’

Vault became popular-enough among fans, and Pepsi made a response with their Mountain Dew Code Red. Coca-Cola responded by making the Vault Red Blitz. The drink continued selling well and lasted for a total of six years until it was discontinued.

The interesting part is that Vault didn’t fail because of low sales or lack of popularity among consumers. It was discontinued primarily because of Monster Energy. Coca-Cola bought the majority share in the company and decided it wasn’t smart to compete against itself with Vault, which was also an energy drink. So, they soon discontinued the entire brand.

In all honesty, it was probably the right decision, as Monster Energy is one of the biggest energy drink brands today. However, the Vault brand, on its own, is still a failure.

The Complete Failure of Jolt Cola

Jolt Cola

Jolt Cola is most likely the biggest failure on this list, and yet, it’s the only one that still exists. However, there is a good reason for this strange statement.

The drink was introduced in 1985 during the most heated period of the Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi war. Jolt Cola was an outsider, but they did well at first. Their main appeal was the fact that they were a ‘maximum caffeine’ alternative to all other similar beverages. The primary target market was students and young professionals, as the drink was supposed to give them energy the same way energy drinks did.

This went on for quite a while, as many of you already know. However, the drink failed only when the entire company went under. The Jolt Cola company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011, but they came back into the world in 2017 when the entire company was restructured.

Key Takeaways

As you can see, just as much as the world of beverages is filled with some major successes many adore, it’s also filled with some major disasters. Many of them are forgotten, but it’s worth remembering them if you want to stay in the game.

That’s why it’s vital for you to follow posts like these and always be aware of what works and doesn’t work in the beverage industry.

The History of the Beverage Industry (Part 6): The Story of the Smoothie

Well, we’ve already reached the sixth article in the series. The beverage industry is big and has a lot of different products that deserve to have their own piece. After the bit on energy drinks, it’s time to cover other sweet beverages that so many people around the world adore, some maybe too much! I am, of course, talking about the smoothie, the delicious drink both kids and adults love.

We’ll cover the origins and the history of the beverage, its development, where the industry is today, and of course, the most popular brands. Let’s begin.

What Is a Smoothie?

We already talked about juices in general, but smoothies and other similar drinks didn’t get their fair share. You should take a look at that article if you want to learn more about juices, but for now, we’ll concentrate on smoothies now.

The smoothie is in many ways a juice, but it’s also very unique, as well. It’s always made from either pureed raw fruits, vegetables, or even dairy products. With so many different foods existing in these categories, the variants of smoothies are almost endless. People tend to make their own types as well, including other products and creating something new and unique by simply mixing it all in a blender.

The smoothies we see today have evolved a lot, and they tend to include additional ingredients like sweeteners (sugar, honey, stevia), fruit juices, water, crushed ice, different powders, seeds, nuts, and more.

One main thing that connects all smoothies is that they are supposedly very healthy. However, that all depends on the ingredients being used. We’ll cover the health benefits of smoothies later on in the article.

The Origin of the Smoothie

As you can expect, due to the simplicity of the drink, smoothies have been around for centuries. Many cultures across the globe have been making pureed fruit drinks for ages, like the people of South America, for example.

The Indian subcontinent has its own form of a smoothie and has had it for a long time. It’s called Lassi, a yogurt-based blend that also uses water, spices, and often fruit. The mango-based sweet lassis are more like fruit infused milkshakes, which brings us to one thing that must be mentioned – milkshakes and smoothies are two distinct beverages that shouldn’t be grouped into one category, despite their apparent similarities. The main difference is in the fact that smoothies can be meal-replacements, as they are rich in vitamins and minerals, while milkshakes are more like deserts. Smoothies are often fruit and vegetable based while milkshakes are often ice cream based.

But I digress. Smoothies, as we know them today, were first made in the 1930s. The name smoothie came to be a few years earlier, but it wasn’t first used to describe the drink we know today. The word was only used to describe a person who is self-assured and suave, especially when communicating with the opposing sex.

The very concept of the smoothie we know today was accidentally created by a man called Julius Freed in the 1920s. He suffered from a sensitive stomach, and he found that a fresh orange juice that’s more bubbly and less acidic was something that he could enjoy. So he created Orange Julius, which is today one of the longest-running fruit drink makers in the world. As of 1987, Orange Julius is a subsidiary of Dairy Queen, which is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.

The Influence Blenders Had (and Still Have) on Smoothies

The first smoothies that followed were fairly simple. They only had fruit, fruit juice, and ice, but they were still very obscure, especially in the United States. Until the blender was first made, making smoothies was virtually impossible in America. In fact, the origin of the smoothie is closely tied to the origin of the blender. People were not really interested in smoothies before the blender – it was this device that made smoothies widely available to the masses.

The first blender was made by a Polish-American chemist, Stephen Poplawski, with his Stevens Electric Company in 1919. However, it was a simple drink mixer, and Fred Waring made the first real blender in 1937. The Waring Blendor (and no, that is not a spelling error) popularized the smoothie in the United States during the 1940s. Other blenders quickly followed, and they further spread the popularity of the drink. It’s important to mention the fairly recent Vita-Mix, a blender that genuinely revolutionized the smoothie industry. It was made to be powerful enough to grind all the ingredients (even raw vegetables and nuts) into a smooth paste, making it perfect for making smoothies.

Further Development of Smoothies

The first smoothies were, as we said, fairly simple. The leading marketing connected to them was simple, as well. Most smoothies were marketed as a tasty, refreshing beverage that can quench your thirst. They still had a ways to go before becoming the meal replacement beverage we know today.

Talking about healthy, the hippie culture had a significant influence on the evolution of the smoothie. In the 60s and 70s, the U.S. was witnessing a sort-of rebirth of vegetarianism and the rise of veganism. Hippies and others propagated healthy living and healthy diets. That made many turn to organic and natural products that would keep them healthy and fit.

That caused many businesses to start opening health food stores across the country, and these stores started selling blended fruit drinks.

Jack LaLanne, an American fitness and nutrition expert and motivational speaker, also had a significant influence in popularizing smoothies and other healthy juices. He is often dubbed as the Godfather of Fitness, which should help you understand how influential he was in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. He started promoting health and fitness before celebrities who are today well-known as the leading promoters. He was also the first person in the U.S. to open a gym and health food store. What’s more, he was the first to discover the weight loss meal replacement drink and created several smoothie recipes that many still use to this day.

The Smoothie King Franchise

When discussing the history and evolution of the smoothie, we cannot skip the Smoothie King franchise.

A man named Steve Kuhnau experimented with smoothie recipes for years, and in 1973 he finally made one that he could truly enjoy. You most likely think that he probably had a sensitive stomach like Julius Freed, but Steven was actually lactose intolerant. He wanted to drink something similar to milkshakes that many others around him were able to drink, so he invented his own drink. He mixed fruit, various nutrients and vitamins, and created a custom blend that is known to many today. The drink turned out to be very delicious, and it also regulated his blood sugar to an extent. He decided that his drink was a good business idea and that others should have a chance to enjoy it, so he created the Smoothie King company that still exists today.

He decided on the word smoothie, as his primary demographic were hippies, who already loved the health and fitness benefits these types of drinks provided. Plus, the term was already well-known among the hippie community and many others who loved similar health foods and drinks.

The first store was opened in 1989, and in 2003, the company went international. In 2012, it was acquired by a South Korean franchisee, who then popularized the drink in South Korea. As it was spreading across the United States, it eventually made the term smoothie a household word.

In 2018, the franchise opened its 1,001st store, and now it boasts revenues of almost half a billion dollars annually. 

Other Popular Smoothie Brands

  • Odwalla

The Odwalla company was established in 1980 as a seller of food bars, juices, and smoothies. The first Odwalla products were marketed as a way for people to break free from over-processed foods that exist everywhere.

The company expanded massively in the 1990s, but it suffered some losses when it was discovered that one of its batches was contaminated with E. coli. It took some time for the company to rehabilitate its brand. In 2000, they acquired Fresh Samantha, another juice and smoothie company. They soon shut down the Fresh Samantha brand and started selling everything under the Odwalla brand.

Odwalla was soon acquired by the Coca Cola company in its effort to move into the non-carbonated drinks industry. The Odwalla brand is still connected to its Superfood smoothie line of drinks.

  • Naked Juice

The Naked Juice brand was born in America in 1983 as a company that makes juices and smoothies.

The brand started small but quickly expanded. Jimmy Rosenberg and David Bleeden created the first fruit juices with the Naked Juice name and sold them from home. As they expanded, their company reached massive heights, and their main rival became the industry leader Odwalla.

As Coca Cola had purchased Odwalla, it didn’t take long for its rival Pepsi to buy Naked Juice. The acquisition enabled Naked Juice drinks to be sold across the United States, Canada, and the U.K.

The company today has more than 20 different drinks, some of which are in juice form, while others are smoothies. All drinks are 100% fruit and vegetable drinks.

Besides these two and the other brand names we mentioned, there are plenty of other smoothie makers:

  • Bolthouse Farms – known for carrot smoothies
  • Dr. Smoothie Brands – known for smoothie powder mixes without artificial ingredients
  • Jamba Juice Company – sells all sorts of fruit and vegetable smoothies, protein smoothies, and others
  • Tropical Smoothie Café – sells different smoothies in more than 700 cafes across the United States
  • Daily Harvest – one of the fastest-growing e-commerce brands that sells ready-to-drink smoothies

The smoothie industry today is quickly growing, mostly because of the growing popularity of healthy drinks and foods across the globe. The size of the industry is $150 billion and is expected to grow significantly in the following years.

I was lucky to serve as Vice President of Sales, Marketing, Distribution and Operations at Fresh Samantha/Odwalla and Vice President of Marketing at Naked Juice.

How Healthy Are Smoothies?

The supposed health benefits of the smoothie are directly related to what’s included in each specific smoothie.

Store-bought smoothies tend to have a lot of sugar and calories, as well. Many smoothies from popular brands we discussed here are so full of calories that they could be akin to a couple of chocolate bars.

The unfortunate truth is that these smoothies can be a substitute for meals only because they are large and contain a massive number of calories (often reaching the 1,000 mark).

All of that means that the best smoothies are the ones you make on your own. You need to try to stick to fruits and vegetables only, without adding sugars and fruits that have high sugar contents. However, don’t expect such smoothies to be completely satisfying. The very fact that they are liquids is enough to explain that they cannot be as fulfilling as solid foods. However, they will undoubtedly be very healthy, or as healthy as the ingredients in them are.

Key Takeaways

The history and evolution of the smoothie is a rich and interesting one. Pureed fruit mixes are as old as many cultures across the world, but the modern smoothie we know today is not.

However, as you’ve witnessed, in less than a hundred years, the smoothie industry has reached tremendous heights. From the humble beginnings of small house brands, the smoothies expanded as the blender was created. The hippie culture and health and fitness coaches popularized them, and the brands that followed made the smoothie a household name.

Today, the industry is continuing to grow at an extremely fast rate due to the renewed health and fitness craze we are witnessing. There’s no way to tell what will happen in the near or distant future, but we will be sure to continue following the trends. You should do the same, as that could help you create something of your own, maybe even as unique and popular as the brands we discussed here.

For further information about Cascadia Managing Brands, please go to www.cascadiafoodbev.com.

The History of the Beverage Industry (Part 5): Which Brands Furthered the Evolution?

Energy Drinks

In my previous take on the history of the beverage industry, I focused on sports drinks and how they came to be. I discussed their origin, their rise to popularity, and the most popular brands. I also covered the bottled water industry that has an even longer history and more players.

Today, it’s time to move to another interesting phenomenon that struck the U.S. and the entire world. I am talking about the phenomenon of energy drinks and, most notably, Red Bull. The history of the energy drink industry is a rich and interesting one, so let’s not delay!

The Pre-Origins of Energy Drinks

Those familiar with the history of beverages know that the energy drinks we know today started in Japan in the early 1960s. However, the phenomenon of boosting your energy levels with a drink began much earlier in the U.S.

In the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, energy drinks were basically a subset of the soft drink industry. That’s mostly because major players like Pepsi and Coca Cola had plenty of drinks that had caffeine and sugar in them. Pepsi was initially marketed as an energy booster drink, which could make it the first energy drink in a way. Coca Cola, on the other hand, wasn’t marketed that way, but it had mostly the same ingredients.

The whole energy booster phase started subsiding in 1906 when the Coca Cola Company was sued for having too much caffeine in their products. Coca Cola won the United States v. Forty Barrels and Twenty Kegs of Coca-Cola federal lawsuit, but the effects weren’t favorable for the company. The pressure was high, so Coca Cola decided to reduce the amount of caffeine in its products.

Lucozade Energy

It took a while for energy-boosting drinks to become popular again in America, but Europe wasn’t lagging. In the U.K. in 1929, a new drink was made – Lucozade Energy. If you’ve read my previous article in the series, then you know that Lucozade was a big part of the sports drinks industry. If you haven’t, go back and read that piece to learn more. Lucozade Energy was introduced as a hospital drink that was supposed to replenish lost energy in patients.

Dr. Enuf

In the States, energy drinks came back in 1949 when Dr. Enuf, developed by a businessman named William Mark Swartz, was first introduced. The story goes that his coworkers urged him to create a soft drink that would be better and healthier than the ones that existed at the time, which were filled to the brim with empty calories. He took this task seriously and created a drink from caffeine, cane sugar, and B vitamins. He formed a partnership with Tri-City Beverage and started bottling and selling the drink. Seventy years later, his drink is still being manufactured in the original location in Johnson City, Tennessee, and shipped across the country, albeit sparsely.

The True Beginnings of the Energy Drink Industry

As I’ve already stated, the real beginning of the energy drink we know today is traced back to early 1960s Japan.

When the Second World War ended, amphetamines became very popular, and this went on for the majority of the postwar period and beyond. The law banned them in the 1950s, but then in 1962, a company called Taisho introduced Lipovitan. The drink was essentially a legal amphetamine – an energizing tonic sold in small bottles. Lipovitan was the first, but many similar drinks came later and became hugely popular among the white-collar working-class demographic, or the salarymen as they are known in Japan.

It’s worth noting that these energy drinks resembled nothing being sold in the west. In Europe and the U.S., these were soft drinks, while the Japanese ones were more like nutritional drinks of a sort. They were intentionally made to resemble something being sold in a pharmacy, with their small brown glass medicine bottles. However, these energy drinks were very similar to the ones we know and love today. Even their marketing was similar. In the 1980s, when they were the national norm and vastly popular, one television ad featured Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime bursting out of a bottle like a juiced-up working man ready to conquer the world.

It didn’t take long for this energy drink craze to spread from Japan to other countries. In 1963, Bacchus-F was developed in South Korea, and it was primarily modeled on Lipovitan and made with the same target audience in mind.

The United States Felt the Craze Later on

The 1980s and 1990s were big for the energy drinks industry, not only in Japan, as the phenomena started catching on in Europe and the U.S.

In 1985, Jolt Cola was introduced to the U.S. Developed by the Jolt Company, the drink was marketed as an excellent drink for reducing sleepiness. It had a large amount of caffeine in it, and the first slogan of the drink was: “All the sugar and twice the caffeine.” The drink was marketed to students and young professionals, the same target audience of energy drinks today. Jolt Cola is still being sold today in several countries besides the U.S., and they claim to be America’s first carbonated energy drink.

Ten years later, Pepsi developed and launched Josta, which was the first energy drink made by a major U.S. drink company. However, the drink didn’t last long, and its production was canceled in 1999. However, that wasn’t the end for Pepsi, as they came back to the energy drink market in 2001 with their Amp Energy drink. Today, Amp Energy is the fourth largest energy drink brand in the U.S. when you look at the overall sales.

Most people don’t remember, but before Darius Bikoff, the founder of Vitamin Water and SmartWater, was successful, he launched an energy drink based on Japanese anime characters called GoGo.

Red Bull

The True Beginnings of Energy Drinks Worldwide – Red Bull

The energy drink phenomena struck Japan first, and then the nearby East Asian countries. However, Europe entered the game soon after. Energy drinks started in Europe with the launch of Power Horse by the Lisa company.

Krating Daeng

However, it wasn’t long until an Austrian entrepreneur called Dietrich Mateschitz co-created Red Bull – the worldwide bestseller and the dominant force of the energy drinks market. What’s interesting here is that Mateschitz based Red Bull on a Thai energy drink called Krating Daeng, which was based on the Japanese Lipovitan – the original energy drink.

Mateschitz wasn’t ready to alter his drink too much when he based it on the Thai one. He first tasted the drink when he traveled to Thailand and was looking for something to help him with his jet lag. He tried Krating Daeng, and the idea for Red Bull was born. His own drink was essentially only modified to suit Western tastes, while the basic ingredients were mostly the same. Even the logo is the same, which is why the two drinks are often thought to be the same today. In markets where both are sold, there is a lot of confusion to this very day.

Krating Daeng means red gaur in English, and gaur is the Indian bison, one of the largest bovine in the world. The logo was thus suitable for Red Bull as well, which is why Mateschitz decided not to change it.

Red Bull was introduced to Europe in 1987, and it basically cemented the now-known formula of energy drinks – caffeine, taurine, sugar, and vitamins.

Naturally, all of these similarities between Krating Daeng and Red Bull were intentional and made with the permission of the Yoovidhya family. Mateschitz even gave part of the shares of the company to Yoovidhya, but the mutual agreement was that Mateschitz would be running Red Bull. The same is true today, with the majority of the shares belonging to the Yoovidhya family, while Mateschitz runs the company.

He was looking to essentially re-brand Krating Daeng and bring it closer to the Western audience. The marketing was altered entirely. Krating Daeng was usually marketed to blue-collar workers in Thailand, and the most significant consumers were truckers. However, Red Bull was re-positioned to be an upscale drink, a trendy one made for the rich. It was thus first introduced to Austrian ski resorts. The pricing followed this upscale marketing, and Red Bull quickly became a premium drink, while Krating Daeng remained a low-cost one.

Red Bull quickly conquered Austria and was then introduced to the neighboring Hungary and Slovenia in 1992. In 1994, it expanded to the U.K. and Germany. After Europe, the next market was the American one. Red Bull entered the U.S. in 1997. The craze quickly began there, and by 2005, the energy drink market share of Red Bull was 47%. In 2008, Forbes magazine listed Mateschitz as the 250th richest person in the world, with a net worth of $4 billion. He shared the spot with Chaleo Yoovidhya, the creator of Krating Daeng.

Today, the entire global energy drinks market size is valued at $53 billion, and it’s estimated to reach $86 billion by 2026. In large part, Red Bull is the one that brought the energy drinks industry to these heights. The unique branding of Red Bull is mainly responsible for its success. The company didn’t follow traditional marketing techniques but was aiming to generate awareness, and it managed to create a brand myth of sorts through extreme sports events and stand-out stunts.

Recent Developments in the Energy Drinks Industry

When the 2000s began, energy drinks started to change a bit. There was a growing trend for putting energy drinks in bigger cans, and most companies followed this. However, in countries like the U.S. and Canada, where a limitation is placed on the amount of caffeine in a single serving of an energy drink, producers decided to increase the amount of caffeine together with the size of the bottle. That’s why brands like Red Bull, Monster, and Hype Energy Drinks have subsequently increased their can size.

Those who wanted something smaller didn’t have to wait long, for in 2004, an offshoot of energy drinks was created – the energy shot. They are marketed to people who don’t have enough time to drink a whole can of energy drink but want to get their energy drink fix. Energy shots contain the same dose of caffeine in a smaller amount of liquid, usually 50ml. 5-Hour Energy was the first product to start the energy shot trend.

Later on, in 2007, energy drink tablets and powders were also introduced. They were made to be an even smaller version of energy shots, as they can be dissolved in water to create a standard energy drink.

Energy Drink Effects and Health Problems

Despite their marketing, most of the effects we get from energy drinks come from caffeine. There is little evidence that their other ingredients like vitamins have any significant impact on the human body. The drinks do give you more energy and improved cognitive performance, but that’s mostly due to the higher amounts of caffeine found in energy drinks.

As you’re probably already aware, energy drinks can create health problems, at least when they are consumed frequently in larger amounts. Studies have shown that excessive energy drink consumption can lead to disrupted sleep patterns, cardiac problems like arrhythmia and heart attack, and mental problems like phobias and anxiety.

The health issues don’t only come from caffeine, but from the mixture of ingredients most energy drinks have. It’s essential to limit energy drink consumption and respect the labels that exist on all energy drinks.

Key Takeaways

As you can see, the history of the energy drinks industry is a rich one. It might not be a long history, but in the 50 or so years it spans, a lot has happened in this market, resulting in many hugely popular brands.

Red Bull is the dominant force on the market, but other products have their fair share as well – brands like Monster, Rockstar, Bang, Eastroc Super Drink, NOS, Burn, and Hi-Tiger.

The industry continues to evolve, just like all other beverage industries, which is why it’s vital to follow the industry insights and learn from others to improve your own brand. Who knows, you might even create the next Red Bull in your own market.

For more information about Cascadia Managing Brands, please go to our website http://www.cascadiafoodbev.com

The History of the Beverage Industry (Part 4): How Bottled Water Changed the Industry

Bottled Water History

Fred Sipper outside Irving’s Food Center and on the TV Guide cover

What about Bottled Water?

Unlike sports drinks, bottled water has a much longer history. Even though we humans started transporting water in vessels since the dawn of the first civilizations, bottling of it started much later in the early 17th century. The craze for bottled water in the United States started much later, though, in the 1970s.

In 1621, the first bottling of water began at the Holy Well in the United Kingdom. It was a humble beginning in one bottling plant. That doesn’t exist anymore, but the Malvern water from the springs in this area is still bottled to this day.

The practice started in the UK, then spread across Europe and subsequently to North America during the 1700s. The method gained in popularity as natural springs are believed to have many healing properties. Even though it was popular, bottled water only started being commercially distributed in 1767 by Jackson’s Spa in Boston. All the while, bottled water was mostly created and sold as a medicinal remedy by pharmacists.

In the 1800s, technological innovations allowed for some improvements to the practice. These mostly consisted of cheaper glass bottles and significantly faster bottling. Thanks to this, bottled water grew in popularity even more.

The popularity of bottled water in the 20th Century somewhat declined, especially in the US. This was mostly due to the invention of water chlorination, which reduced the dangers of drinking water available from the public supply. However, bottled water still persisted in Europe, and in the 1970s, became popular again.

A bottle of beer on a table

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Perrier

In the mid to late 1970s Perrier managed to position itself as the ‘Earth’s First Soft Drink’, thanks to Bruce Nevens and James Stevens, the first US CEO and VP Marketing respectively (and later the inventors of Chipwich Ice Cream Sandwiches). Perrier started bottled water’s commercial dominance. Perrier is now known throughout the world for its high level of carbonation and especially for its distinctive green bottle. It’s now owned by Nestlé.

But back in the day, a retailer named Fred Sipper, whom Smithsonian Magazine once called the “King of Bottled Water”, started selling Perrier in his small grocery store in New York City in 1960 called Irving’s Food Center.  At the time, though what was to become a revolutionary idea, started out as a ploy to attract more consumers to his supermarket. Irving’s Food Center had a lot of European customers, especially French clientele, and his tactic worked.

Fred first purchased cases at a time.  Then he started running full page advertisements in The New York Times to promote Perrier and Irving’s Food Center. He began purchasing and selling pallets of Perrier and then overseas containers from France.  Unfortunately, the grocery store was too small to handle that type of volume and he opened a warehouse and a new wholesale distribution company called Mootch and Muck, affectionately named after his parents’ nicknames for one another.

Irving’s Food Center NY Times Ad

Bruce Nevens and Jim Stevens were great marketers, constantly looking to cater to the upscale NYC clubs, restaurants, and hotels, etc.

Bruce Nevens and Jim Stevens, Perrier

The business grew and Fred added other bottled water brands including Evian, San Pellegrino, Poland Spring, Mountain Valley, Aqua Panna, Contrexevelle, Badoit, Apollinaris, Gerolsteiner, Ferrarelle (to be re-launched in the United States by Evian in 2020) and many more.  He eventually convinced the major and many minor retailers, as well as the trendy restaurants and clubs to sell the first bottled waters in New York and New Jersey.

Perrier, Evian, Pellegrino

Fred opened his first warehouse to distribute bottled water in the mid 1970s.  The first warehouse was 1000 square feet and housed mostly Perrier.  The second warehouse opened in 1982 and was 35,000 square feet; the next a 60,000 square foot warehouse on Grand Avenue, and then 100,000 square feet in 1985 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

From 1976-1988 Fred was the exclusive Evian distributor for the NY ADI. Mootch and Much was also the first Vitamin Water distributor and shared the exclusive distribution rights to San Pellegrino with a food service distributor.

In came Jack Maguire, a savvy former Vice President of Canada Dry, and the first CEO of Evian USA, then called Great Waters of France.  Jack was a great marketer and teamed up with Fred to create the largest bottled water empire in the USA for many years. In fact, Fred and Jack participated and sponsored the NYC Marathon and catered at first to runners.  Both would run in Central Park at mid-day together to train for the event in pink Evian shirts and sweats, and of course always with a bottle of glass Evian, there was no plastic at that time in their hands.

Jack Maguire, CEO Evian and Fred Sipper, CEO Mootch and Muck

Fred developed the first bottled water program where he would visit the swankiest upscale restaurants, hotels, and clubs in Manhattan.  His first questions was, “how much money do you make on the free bread you give out?  What about the free tap water you serve with ice that you pay for?”  They soon began to realize that a bottle of Evian at the table could add 15% to their checks.  Fred would also interview the wait staff and initiate his Evian Waiter Program which consisted of training the waiter to convince their customers to buy Evian so that their tips would increase by at least $1.00 per client, if their customer only bought one bottle.

He made an arrangement to meet with all the waiters and outlined his program: 1) When the customer sat down, there would be a bottle of Evian on every table. 2) No glasses of tap water were visible. 3) and if they convinced the client to buy the Evian their tips went up. Since the average waiter would wait on more than 30 tables per night, he or she would earn an extra $30 per night.

He also advised them about the Evian Mystery who would unknowingly have dinner in their restaurant during a defined period of time.  If the waiter even mentioned Evian, the waiter would receive $100 on the spot.

Simultaneously, he convinced chain store buyers to create the first bottled water sections in their stores.  He offered a free fill for every inch of space they gave them.  And if the product didn’t sell, at the end of the month he promised to purchase any unsold merchandise at full retail price. The result: He never had to buy back any bottles.

Food Emporium’s Buyer at the time, Dan Portnoy,
worked with Fred to launch their Bottled Water Spectacular, a one week bottled water promotion four times per year

Fred and Jack convinced Marvin Taub at Bloomingdales to display Evian in their stores and sample consumers in high end departments like fur and expensive women’s clothing. Taub wanted a 60 day exclusive when the plastic Evian bottle was introduced.  The three parties agreed and then Fred pre-sold all of the city’s supermarket chains leveraging the distribution in Bloomingdales.

To this day and since 2000, Fred consults for the second largest online distributor, second only to Amazon, of non alcoholic beverages, Beverageuniverse.com.  He still seeks new bottled waters daily to add to the 290+ kinds and sizes Beverage Universe stocks.

But I digress…and it is time to re-focus on the earlier history.

The Origins of Schweppes and Carbonated Bottled Water

One would think that this is all there is to bottled water, but there’s more to it. In 1783, a Geneva man called Johann Jacob Schweppe developed a process for the manufacturing of bottled and carbonated mineral water. He also founded the now-known Schweppes company that started selling his carbonated water.

This changed the game for the bottled water industry. It was the first time people came into contact with soda water, sparkling water, or seltzer water as we know it in the United States.

Even though Schweppes started the bottling of carbonated water, that water itself had been accidentally developed by Joseph Priestley some 16 years earlier. He discovered that it was possible to imbue water with carbon dioxide. He drank his concoction and later wrote about the unusual satisfaction he gained from drinking it.

Later on, in 1809, bottled carbonated water started gaining popularity in the US as well. Joseph Hawkins got a patent for producing imitation mineral water. As the decades passed, bottles of carbonated water were being sold in the millions.

Evian, Badoit, and Volvic

Bottled Water Market and Its Effects

In the 1970’s few people knew about bottled water. However, they started to buy it in droves as negative reports about US water supply surfaced and trendy discos like Studio 54 and restaurants like Elaine’s and clubs like Regines started selling Perrier.

After Perrier took the market by storm, Mootch and Muck added San Pellegrino and Evian to its distribution trucks to build all 3 bottled water brands in the Metro New York area.  Poland Spring soon joined along with Calistoga, Arrowhead, Badoit, SPA, and other pioneers.

Mountain Valley, Contrex, Evian Trade Ad, Perrier Trade Ad

More and more consumers switched from Perrier to non-sparkling waters like Evian and their usage occasions increased.  Evian was in fact the first bottled water company to introduce their products in plastic bottles.  Once this occurred the bottled water industry exploded.  Competitors followed suit using plastic bottles.  And sales have continued to increase for every year since the late 1970s.

Evian Plastic

Today, centuries after the first bottled water was produced, the entire market is worth around $200 billion and is expected to reach $330 billion by 2023. The enormous growth of the market is being spearheaded by many conglomerates bottling and selling mineral water and carbonated water, thus easing public concerns across the globe about the safety of tap water.

Market Watch

In 2012, the US annual consumption of bottled water reached 9.67 billion gallons (36.6 billion liters) or 30.8 gallons (116.6 liters) per person. As for the world, global consumption reached 300 billion liters or 79.2 billion gallons in 2014.

The consumption of bottled water varies from place to place, and it mostly has to do with how safe tap water is in the area. Bottled water is also used in emergency responses when disaster strikes. However, on the other end of the spectrum, it is critiqued for its negative effect on the environment. The usage of plastic bottles is mainly blamed as plastic has a massively negative impact on the environment. Despite that, most companies still use plastic bottles because it’s much cheaper than glass.

Nestle has become the number one bottled water company in the world.  They now own Perrier, San Pellegrino, Poland Springs, Arrowhead, Calistoga, Ozarka, Deer Park, Zephyrhills, Aqua Panna, Vittel and their filtered water brand under the Nestle Pure banner. DANONE now owns Evian, Volvic, Badoit, and more.  Coca Cola owns Dasani and Smartwater and Pepsi Cola owns Aqua Fina. Keurig owns CORE.

NY Times Article About Bottled Water
Pepsi H2OH Article

Key Takeaways

Bottled water is now consumed across the globe, with its own distinctive history. Bottled water is a major player in the beverage industry, and its scope is still growing exponentially.

The entire beverage industry continues to evolve, and it is worth the while for every aspiring beverage entrepreneur to stay in touch with the industry insights, as well as to turn to historical takes like this one for clearer perspective. By doing that, you will be better-positioned to create a new shakeup in the industry.

Darius Bikoff’s Precursor to Smart Water and Vitamin Water

For more information about Cascadia Managing Brands please visit our website.

The History of the Beverage Industry (Part 3): Which Brands Furthered the Evolution?

Snapple

In the previous articles on the history of the beverage industry, we discussed the origins of carbonated soft drinks and their further development. We also covered the new age craze for fruit juices and ready to drink tea, two types of beverages that are still quite popular today.

Now, I am going to cover the formation and development of sports drinks and bottled water. Both have a significant influence on the beverage industry and are still going strong today, especially bottled water, without which some people can’t live.

The Strange Beginning of Beverages for Athletes

In part 2 of the series, we briefly touched on New Age Beverage called Snapple. However, the origin of sports drinks goes much further back in history, as far as the 19th century. Back then, it wasn’t known what kind of beverage could help athletes perform better and replenish their energy when needed.

Some athletes were used to drinking beer (yes, beer), but with significantly lower amounts of alcohol. It was thought that low alcoholic content could replenish water, minerals, and energy in our bodies. But back then, they didn’t have the benefits of modern studies we have today. We take our sports drinks and our electrolyte water for granted today, but in the early 19th century, they had to make do with what they could.

Lucozade – the First Sports Drink

It wasn’t until 1927 when the first real sports drink was developed and launched. It was dubbed ‘Glucozade,’ but shortly after changed to the less tongue-twisting and more catchy ‘Lucozade.’ Barely a century later, the sports drink industry is worth more than $4.6 billion. But let’s not rush into things, as we are still far from the billion-dollar industry we have today.

A British pharmacist from Newcastle, named William Walker Hunter developed Lucozade in 1927. It wasn’t considered to be a sports drink at that point, but a medical aid drink for athletes. It was a pure glucose and water mixture that was made to provide a natural source of much-needed energy for athletes. The rights to the drink were sold in 1938 to the famous Beecham Group, which was the first to truly commercialize and mass-produce it. Beecham Group was also the company that changed its name to Lucozade.

The first Lucozade only had one flavor – a distinctively sweet one with citric overtones. It was sold in a yellow cellophane wrap until the 1980s when it was rebranded once again. Their first slogan was ‘Lucozade aids recovery.’ When they rebranded in 1984, the bottle was changed to a classic plastic one, like those used for most beverages today. The more significant change was a marketing one. The company only marketed the product as a beverage for the sick, instead of a drink that can replenish energy.

The sales then tripled, and the company was sold later in 1989 and once again in 2013 to the Japanese company Suntory for £1.35 billion. Today, Lucozade is the number one sports drink in the UK.

A Stronger Player Enters the Market

Despite its relatively high success as a medical product, Lucozade missed the real success it could have had. The sports drink market was just emerging, and it was another product that took it to new heights – Gatorade. Today, most people across the globe have heard of Gatorade, but not many can say the same for Lucozade.

All in all, Gatorade started in 1965 and it essentially created and quickly dominated the new market of sports drinks. Even though Lucozade started it all, it was considered a medicinal drink all the way to the late 1980s when they first rebranded their drink as a sports beverage.

Gatorade, on the other hand, was envisioned by coach Dwayne Douglas as a sports drink that could help the University of Florida football players. He noticed that they tended to lose weight from training and playing. They were urinating less even though they drank lots of water, and they also suffered from heat strokes on occasions. To help them, coach Douglas decided to join forces with a kidney disease specialist from the University – Dr. Robert Cade.

The doctor realized that he only needed to add sugar and salt to the water to help athletes replenish the energy they lost when playing. His drink was mostly the same as Lucozade, but it contained less sugar and some salt – which Lucozade didn’t have. The drink Dr. Cade made didn’t taste good, so his wife suggested adding lemon juice to make it more appealing. That made all the difference in the world, and the now-famous drink was made. It was named Gatorade because it was essentially created for football players at the University of Florida – the Gators.

So, the drink was made and given to the Gators in 1966. They immediately started performing better, lost less weight, and had fewer problems with the heat. The drink started being distributed by the Stokely-Van Camp Co. but was subsequently acquired by Quaker Oats in 1983. Later in 2001, Quaker Oats was purchased by Pepsi, and with the purchase, they gained all the rights to Gatorade.

Other Players on the Market and What Makes All of Them Successful

Body Armor Representatives

Lucozade marked the beginning, Gatorade started the craze, but other sports drinks also contributed to the massive expansion of the entire market. Coca Cola has its own version called Powerade. Then there’s California-based Muscle’s Milk, Aquarius from Coca Cola, the global Herbalife, Pepsi’s All Sport, and Japanese-based Pocari Sweat to name a few. More recently the phenom Body Armor was successfully launched by beverage entrepreneurs Lance Collins and Mike Repole.  Coca Cola recently purchased a minority interest in the Company and will distribute it in the United States, somewhat sidelining their other sports drink entry, Powerade.

The success of all of these different brands lies in the mixture that was primarily created by Dr. Cade. Naturally, it was refined by many of the previously mentioned companies and brands, but the basic concept remains the same.

Almost every sports drink is a blend of electrolytes and carbohydrates. Virtually all of the carbs come from sugar, which is much needed for muscles. Electrolytes are usually a mixture of salt and potassium, and they replenish everything you lose through sweating. Outside of that, most sports drinks contain some flavors and colors to make them tasty and appealing to larger masses.

The Health Benefits and Problems

It’s vital to note that sports drinks can be useful, but not always. First of all, they contain a lot of calories; a large bottle of Gatorade has around 200 calories, which can often be a lot more than you can burn during a workout.

What’s more, many scientists state that if you’re not exercising for more than 90 minutes, then there’s no need to consume a sports drink at all, because in these cases, your body doesn’t require more sugar and electrolytes. Thus, it stands to reason that the Gators initially benefited from Gatorade because they trained and played for much more than an hour and a half.

For these reasons, sports drinks are often marketed as soft drinks. They contain less sugar than regular soda, but they still contain an amount that your body rarely needs if you’re following healthy nutrition every day. They are more beneficial for athletes who undertake rigorous and longer training sessions, not for people doing regular exercise.

The sports drink market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 4.31% to reach US $28.584 billion by 2023, from US$22.193 billion in 2017.  “Growing health awareness including the importance of hydration in the human body is one of the major drivers driving the growth of the global sports drink market. Popular brands include Gatorade, Powerade, Staminade, Jianlibao, Pocari Sweat, Maidong (Vitamin Water), All Sport and 100Plus among others” according to Research and Markets.

For more information about Cascadia Managing Brands, please go to our website

The History of the Beverage Industry (Part 2): Which Brands Furthered The Evolution?

Vintage Soda Brands

I find myself writing part two of the History of the Beverage Industry and wondering, “geez, how many parts will I have to write?”.  I blame all of this additional work on Jim Tonkin @healthybrandman who was underwhelmed by my previous beverage history contribution several months ago! J

When we left you last, we discussed the evolution and history of the non-alcoholic beverage industry, essentially, the birth of the carbonated soft drinks.  Today, we are going to discuss what came next and the eventual boom of “new age” or “good for you” beverages and the levels and platitudes these brands created.

What about Fruit Juice?

Sodas aren’t the only non-alcoholic drinks that have had a lightning-fast rise to fame, impeccable reputation for improving health, and a similar downfall. There is, of course, fruit juice, especially the ready to drink kind that has ended up being the most widely consumed. 

Much like soda, fruit juice was also a somewhat healthy-looking concept in its inception, although it has been around for much longer in a non-commercial iteration. There are different definitions of juice, depending on whether you’re looking at the American or British market terminology and regulations. However, fruit juice is essentially a drink made by extracting a fruit’s natural liquid.

As such, it was referenced as early as 100BC-70BC, according to Steven Bailey’s Juice Alive: The Ultimate Guide to Juicing Remedies. It’s safe to say that all ancient civilizations had their own preferred fruit juice combination. However, fruit juice as a commercial product came onto the market much later, around the same time that soda drinks did.

There are several definitions of “fruit juice”:

  1. 100% Fruit Juice, which as its name states, must contain 100% fruit juice.  However, in the mid 1980’s and 1990’s, manufacturers blurred the lines by using very little “named fruit juice” (the name of the fruit juice they are featuring) and started adding apple juice, pear juice, and white grape juice to fill the definition of 100% juice.  We call them fillers because they are essentially used like cheap sweeteners, without adding sugar itself, and have little or no nutritional value.  You can actually taste when a juice brand is using these fillers.
  2. Juice Cocktails are another advent.  Must juice cocktails contain about 10% or more fruit juice, but usually far less than 100% juice.  Many don’t exceed 155 or 20% juice. They are often sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (besides cost, does anyone know why the industry would ever use a this horrible sweetener? —but I digress), cane sugar, Stevia, Erythritol, Monk Fruit, and even artificial sweeteners. Some contain natural and/or artificial flavors or colors.
  3. Juice drinks contain absolutely no fruit juice whatsoever, but are sold as Juice “drinks”, which is fairly misleading. If you drank these as a kid, guess what?  No juice whatsoever.
Remember these? Again, I digress.

The main obstacle to selling freshly produced juice is, of course, its short shelf life — but that changed in 1869 when Thomas Branwell Welch pasteurized fruit juice. Welch was a physician and dentist, religiously against the manufacturing, selling, and consuming of alcoholic beverages. This moved him to come up with a way to halt fruit juice’s fermentation to alcohol, which effectively created the first ready to drink juice.

Welch named his unfermented grape juice Dr. Welch’s Grape Juice, which his son Charles later renamed to Welch’s Grape Juice. Dr. Welch then began advertising it as a remedy to all chronic diseases “except Diabetes Melitus.” The drink was hugely successful until the 1920s and the Prohibition, which saw the rise of soda. However, Welch’s Grape Juice survived those hard times, and it paved the way for other ready to drink juice brands.

The Orange Juice Craze

Another juice craze that would grip America originated from the need of the government to provide a transportable Vitamin C product to their troops during World War II. Back then, canned orange juice was the only option on the market, and scientists were tasked with coming up with something that is transported more easily. That is how frozen concentrated orange juice came to be — three years after the end of World War II. 

However, the problem with both concentrated and pasteurized orange juice is that the process of creating it removes the juice’s natural flavor. That means that some of it has to be put back into the product via the so-called flavor packs — and they are full of additives. For the longest time, these juices were marketed to consumers as a natural, healthy option, but they, in fact, are not.

Despite not being a ready to drink option, frozen, concentrated orange juice kicked off the trend. But by the 1980s and 1990s, the industry had reconstituted ready to serve orange juice and “not from concentrate” orange juice. These inventions turned it into a quintessential American breakfast drink, and fruit juice became a way of life for consumers over the next few decades.

The History of Ready to Drink Tea

On the other hand, a product that is seeing a worldwide increase in sales is ready to drink tea. This industry had humble beginnings as well, starting with the first commercialization of iced tea back in 1904 when English merchant Richard Blechnynden cooled his pre-made tea with ice in an effort to sell it in the sweltering heat of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. The U.S. had known iced tea before, as there are some Civil War-dated references to it. However, the market didn’t really boom until the ‘90s.

Going National

In 1993, ready to drink teas went into nationwide production and distribution, offering a wider range of products than ever before. The industry that started with black tea based products expanded to different branches such as juice blends, unsweetened iced tea, and diet iced tea. The brands that carried the evolution of ready to drink tea were Arizona and Snapple, starting with bottled and canned tea.

Leading Ready to Drink Brands

Snapple Founders

Snapple and Soho Soda and a small handful of others created the New Age Beverage Category by first launching gourmet juices, then natural sodas and seltzers and then ready to drink iced teas. Lipton and Nestea were already making iced teas, but they contained artificial ingredients and were mostly in cans. Additionally, Snapple was one of the first independent beverage companies to bottle their products in a custom, proprietary bottle. The other company to do that at the time was Soho Soda, one of the first natural soda brands.

A bottle of wine

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Snapple began as a joint venture of Arnold Greenberg, Leonard Marsh and Hyman Golden in 1972. Envisioned as a carbonated fruit juice, the first iteration of Snapple exploded in the bottles after fermenting, which earned it its name. A few years later, they produced a ready to drink iced tea, bottling the tea while it was hot. That way, they eliminated the need for additives, which reinforced their all-natural, homemade marketing angle.

After having grown throughout the 80’s, Snapple was sold in 1994 to the Quaker Oats Company for $1.7 billion, which also owned Gatorade, a sports drink invented in the 70’s to help the Florida Gators football team performance. Quaker Oats intended to maintain the popularity of Snapple by implementing strategies similar to what they used with Gatorade, but it didn’t work. With bigger bottles and a lack of charismatic company employees like Wendy Kaufman who carried Snapple’s marketing campaigns, the brand lost a lot of its appeal for consumers. Just 4 years later, Quaker sold Snapple to Triarc for $300 million. They previously purchased Mistic from Joe Umbach for $95 million.  Triarc slowly began restoring Snapple’s popularity.

Arizona Iced Tea Tall Boy

Then Don Vultaggio and John Ferolito took the market by storm with Arizona Iced Tea by putting it in a 24-ounce tallboy can and charging 99 cents for it. Similarly to how Pepsi tried to outshine Coca-Cola by offering more of the product for the same price, Vultaggio thought that it would be the best way to take over Snapple, which was on the height of its popularity at the time.

Using beautifully decorated cans and incredibly uniquely labeled custom glass bottles, Arizona Iced Tea sped to the top of the Iced Tea category outselling all other competitors.

Today, Arizona is behind only Lipton in sales when it comes to canned and bottled teas, but still going strong.

What about Soho Soda?

A can of soda

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Soho Soda was started by Sophia Collier and Connie Best in 1977 and built it to a $20 million + brand before selling it to the Seagrams Beverage Company in 1989 for $14 million. Seagrams destroyed the brand in record time trying to save money by decreasing the 12 ounce bottle to a 10 ounce bottle and increasing the cost to distributors and retailers while changing the ingredients to save money. What followed was a much different beverage. And with brands like Clearly Canadian, Original New York Seltzer, and Zeltzer Seltzer nipping at their heals, Seagrams quietly sold the brand for a huge loss.  They were fond

Soho Soda and Snapple were some of the first pioneers of the better for you beverage industry.

Key Takeaways

The beverage industry has come a long way since its inception in the late 1700s. From the hands of pharmacists, it slowly transferred into the hands of businessmen and advertisers, who are largely responsible for the breakneck speed of its growth. It developed at the same pace new technologies did, allowing the manufacturers and distributors to break old boundaries with each passing year. This process eventually resulted in the massive industry we know today.

However, with consumers beginning to turn more to healthier and more environmentally-friendly options, the industry as we know it today is certainly going to keep changing. For every aspiring beverage entrepreneur, it’s important to follow industry insights and draw conclusions about the potential direction of the development of the industry itself. Opportunities for innovation might be just around the corner.

The History of the Beverage Industry (Part 1): Which Brands Carried Its Evolution?

A few months ago I wrote a blog called The Evolution of the Beverage Industry. My pal, Jim Tonkin, approached me at a recent industry event and told me he had higher expectations for that article. I took it to heart and decided to take his advice. This post is the first in a series of posts detailing the history of the beverage industry and the history of the various categories that have developed. I hope you, and Jim of course, enjoy these posts.

The History of the Beverage Industry: Which Brands Carried Its Evolution?

L0000728 Joseph Priestley’s Chemical apparatus. 18th C Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Chemical apparatus used by Joseph Priestley for his experiments on fixed air (carbon dioxide), which he absorbed in water to make soda water 18th Century Experiments and observations on different kinds of air Joseph Priestley Published: 1790 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

The beverage industry has a fascinating history, and not simply owing to the fact that drinks have been an integral part of the human experience since the dawn of civilization. The story of the industry begins much later, although still centuries ago.

With such a long development, it’s not surprising that there have been so many changes along the way in every aspect of the industry. Whether that’s the production of beverages, packaging, marketing, or the distribution of drinks, the industry has continually improved its processes, leading to the major commercial success and profitability of today.

To understand where the industry might be going in the future, as well as to evaluate its success and economic importance, we need to ask ourselves some questions that lead us into the past.

Where and how did the beverage industry make its first steps, and which brands carried its evolution?

Overview of the Beverage Industry

The beverage industry has two main sectors — the non-alcoholic beverage industry and the alcoholic beverage industry. Alcoholic beverage is a category that includes wine, distilled spirits, and brewing. However, the non-alcoholic category has a few sub-groups, some of which are the main facilitators of the growth of the entire industry. These sub-groups include:

  • Soft drink and water bottling and canning;
  • Soft drink syrup manufacture;
  • Fruit juices bottling, canning, and boxing;
  • Tea and coffee industry.

When we look at the beverage industry as a whole, its fragmentation is noticeable. There are many manufacturers, all with different production processes, packaging methods, and products. The one exception to this overall fragmentation is the soft drinks industry, and it is the first that began to transform from regional and local firms to global corporate giants. This process started in the early 1900s and is still going on today.

Economic Impact of Beverage Industry

Global sales of just one part of the beverage industry, carbonated soft drinks, are projected to reach $605 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research reports. Every beverage type that is considered to be thriving is grossing billions in revenue annually. This doesn’t only include soft drinks, but alcoholic beverages as well. For some countries, the production of coffee is what keeps their entire economy going.

Additionally, the beverage industry has grown enough to employ millions of people around the world. What started as small pharmaceutical enterprises has turned into a sprawling global industry that is showing no signs of slowing down despite health and environmental controversies.

The Invention of Carbonated Beverages

In 17th century Europe, naturally carbonated water from springs was widely sought after due to its therapeutic qualities. The scientists of the time were fascinated by its carbon dioxide properties, which were first described as “gas” by Jan Baptista van Helmont, a Flemish scientist.

In 1685, Robert Boyle published Short Memoirs for the Natural Experimental History of Mineral Waters, where mineral water springs were explored in greater detail, along with ways of making artificial mineral water. Finally, in 1772, Joseph Priestley debuted his carbonating apparatus that eventually set him on the path to becoming the father of the soft drinks industry.

However, he wasn’t the first to produce carbonated water. This accomplishment is credited to Thomas Henry, an English apothecary who used a similarly designed apparatus. Following in their footsteps, Jacob Schweppe made his own carbonating device and began selling carbonated water in Geneva and London.

Therapeutic Intentions

Scientists and apothecaries were the first to start producing soft drinks because they intended to use them for therapeutic purposes. These early seltzers were used medicinally. By 1798, they were known as “soda water,” and in the early 1800s, the production of imitation mineral water was first patented and started on a large scale. The first soda water was bottled in the U.S. in 1835.

There was another interesting development during these years: soda fountains. Samuel Fahnestock patented the first one in 1819, and a hundred years later, virtually every apothecary had a soda fountain. In the 1840s, soda counters found their way into pharmacies. With time, soda fountains grew in popularity as meeting places where one could enjoy carbonated water and its healthful effects. However, that was just the beginning of the beverage industry’s journey.

New Flavors

The development didn’t stop at creating seltzer. Soon enough, drink makers began looking for ways to make their products more attractive by adding new flavors. They started mixing carbonated water with wine and flavored syrups, which is a practice that took off in the 1830s and became standard by the 1860s. You were able to buy seltzer with different flavors, including orange, lemon, pineapple, pear, peach, plum, apricot, grapes, different types of berries, melon, and apple.

Of course, suppliers and manufacturers were constantly on the lookout for new flavors and new ways to incorporate carbonated water into drinks. In 1874, ice-cream soda was invented and sold. Other drinks reached the peak of their popularity decades later during the prohibition era. Those drinks were ginger ale and root beer. Both of which were made with carbonated water.

Ginger Ale and Root Beer

In 1851, ginger ale was created in Ireland. It was part of the effort to flavor artificial mineral water, or rather carbonate other previously non-carbonated drinks. The man who popularized ginger ale and made a trademark drink out of it was a pharmacist from Canada, John McLaughlin, in 1890. In 1907, he invented what is known today as the Canada Dry version of Ginger Ale. This drink became especially popular during the Prohibition, as a perfect mixer to make spirits last longer and cover up their taste.

Root beer has had a similar history, but it was one of the more complex carbonated drinks. It contained more than 25 herbs and other ingredients when it was first introduced to the public in 1876. By 1839, Hires’ Root Beer was first bottled, distributed, and sold, becoming a popular variant of flavored carbonated water.

More Flavors

Cotton Club. The Cotton Club Bottling Company of Cleveland, Ohio was founded in 1902 as Miller-Becker Bottlers, named after Isaac Miller and Eli Becker. In 1954, a new bottling plant was built on E. 49th street when, that same year, soft drinks were sold in cans as well as bottles. The company name was changed to Cotton Club in 1963. During the 1960s and 1970s, the company bottled a variety of soft drinks with the Cotton Club name; grape, orange, ginger ale (and a ginger ale called Big Ginger 50/50, cola, root beer, cherry-strawberry, a fruit punch-soda called Tropical Delight and a red pop called Cherikee Red. SomeCotton Club products are still available in Ohio.

The Birth of Major Beverage Brands

The industry would forever be changed with the invention of the first sodas: Dr. Pepper, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi-Cola. All three entered the scene in the late 1800s.

The first was Dr. Pepper, invented by pharmacist Charles Anderton in Waco, Texas. The drink was born from Anderton’s experimentation with soft drinks and sold at his soda fountain. It quickly became so popular that Anderton had trouble keeping up with the demand. The Dr. Pepper formula was and is a secret, but back in the day, it was advertised as an energizing brain tonic. There are speculations that the drink was named after Dr. Charles Pepper, whom Anderton had worked for before starting to experiment with making his own drinks.

Just a year later, in 1886, Dr. John Pemberton created Coca-Cola through a unique combination of coca leaves from South America and kola nut from Africa. Pemberton was another pharmacist, working in Atlanta. He created the formula on his own and started selling it from a soda fountain at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta. However, it wasn’t until businessman Asa Candler bought the formula from Pemberton and began manufacturing it on his own that the drink really became popular.

And in 1898, Caleb Bradham invented Pepsi-Cola. Initially called Brad’s Drink, it contained the now-famous kola nut, along with sugar, caramel, lemon oil, nutmeg, and, of course, carbonated water. When it started becoming more popular at his soda fountain, Bradham named it Pepsi-Cola, trademarked the drink, and began selling it as a digestive aid.

Expansion of the Industry

As these drinks gained popularity, the industry was growing more focused on bottled products, which led to the eventual downfall of soda fountains. To put the rate of this growth into context, there were 123 plants in the United States bottling soft drinks in 1860. Ten years later, that number grew to 387. In 1900, 2,673 plants were bottling soft drinks in the U.S.

One of the reasons for this speedy expansion was the impeccable public image of soft drinks. Seen as a tame alternative to alcoholic beverages, they were the respectable option that one could buy at a pharmacy. Of course, many industrial developments allowed for more efficient manufacturing and distribution process, such as replacing horse-drawn carriages with gas-motored trucks.

Finally, there is the appeal of advertising as well. While Coca-Cola had its aggressive advertising campaigns led by Candler, Pepsi wasn’t too far behind. In fact, they were the first brand to use the appeal of celebrities, hiring a famous race car driver, Barney Oldfield, in 1913 to be their brand spokesman.

Mass Production

The industry grew so fast, and technology advanced quickly enough to allow the start of mass production as early as the first decade of the 1900s. In 1904, there were one million gallons of Coca-Cola sold annually. Still, there were obstacles that the industry had to face, especially during World War I and World War II.

Pepsi Cola went bankrupt in 1923, after Bradham’s unsuccessful gamble with trying to profit off the prices of sugar. In the 1930s, Pepsi was reformulated and put in packages almost double the size of Coca-Cola, scoring them an effective advertising campaign with “twice as much for a nickel.” They survived World War II by becoming a popular drink for U.S. soldiers.

After the tumultuous war years, the industry continued to develop and advance its bottling and packaging processes. In 1957 we saw the invention of aluminum cans for soft drinks. In 1965, we got our first canned soft drinks in vending machines. And in the 1970s, the industry introduced plastic packaging for soft drinks, specifically the Polyethylene Terephthalate bottle. Out of all the beverage industry inventions, this one was by far the worst when it comes to environmental impact.

However, there are other concerns about the impact of soda, not only on our planet but on our health as well.

Health Impact of Soda

Even though soda drinks started as pharmaceutical products, the industry and mass production changed their purpose over time. During the soda fountain days, sodas were made with mostly natural and healthy ingredients, with syrups that weren’t overly sweet. But by the 1990s, soda drinks have transformed so much that there were barely any healthy ingredients left in them.

Even in 1942, there were some controversies connecting sugar-sweetened beverages or soda drinks to certain health issues. The first studies confirming these doubts appeared in 1994. Health issues like obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay contributed to consumers rallying against giants like Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

In 2009, 33 states implemented taxes on soft drinks, and this was the start of a legislative struggle to limit the harmful health effects of sugar-sweetened beverages. However, many of these proposals failed — most notably, the 2013 New York City attempt to ban the sale of soft drinks larger than 16 ounces.

Despite their initially positive public image, soft drinks are now being viewed as harmful, and many manufacturers are required to put health warning labels on their drinks. Much like alcohol and tobacco, sodas have fallen out of public favor, and they have almost nothing in common with the drinks that gave birth to the industry.

Key Takeaways

The beverage industry has come a long way since its inception in the late 1700s. From the hands of pharmacists, it slowly transferred into the hands of businessmen and advertisers, who are largely responsible for the breakneck speed of its growth. It developed at the same pace new technologies did, allowing the manufacturers and distributors to break old boundaries with each passing year. This process eventually resulted in the massive industry we know today.

However, with consumers beginning to turn more to healthier and more environmentally-friendly options, the industry as we know it today is certainly going to keep changing. For every aspiring beverage entrepreneur, it’s important to follow industry insights and draw conclusions about the potential direction of the development of the industry itself. Opportunities for innovation might be just around the corner.  

It’s Time for Glass Again — Can We End Beverage Industry’s Use of Plastic?

When was the last time you were able to purchase a soft drink in a reusable glass bottle?

When was the last time you even saw a soft drink in a glass packaging?

Today, single-use plastic packaging is still omnipresent, despite our increasing environmental awareness. According to a World Wide Fund for Nature study, an average person consumes 1,769 tiny plastic particles and fibers every week just from drinking water. That accumulates to around a half-pound of plastic every year!

And we aren’t the only ones feeling the impact of plastic. We might be the last link experiencing the results in the huge chain that makes up our environment. Unfortunately, the beverage industry plays a significant role in plastic pollution of the Earth. Let’s have a closer look at how plastic impacts our environment and whether we could turn the bleak trend around by going back to glass bottles.

Environmental Impact of Plastic

In the ‘60s, plastic waste was observed in the oceans for the first time, which ended the reputation of plastic materials as entirely positive and great to use. Even though plastic helped our industrial advancement, especially in the years after World War II, we did not have enough foresight to predict its environmental impact.

And it is dire, mostly because that plastic, made from synthetic materials not found in nature, can take forever to decompose on its own. Most plastic bottles take at least 450 years to biodegrade, and only if they weren’t made with Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET).

Today, plastic pollution is a huge problem — it has contaminated our oceans most of all. Toxins from plastic find their way into plankton, which is the base food of most marine ocean species. It travels through the entire food chain, ending up on our own tables.

But our air and land are also polluted. When plastic is burned to dispose of it, toxins are released into the air. While it waits for its turn to be disposed of in landfills, we end up needing more and more space for storing garbage.

According to Science (website), about 8 million metric tons are thrown into the ocean each and every year. This is the equivalent weight of approximately 25,000 Empire State buildings (website). Even with current recycling and conservation efforts, the amount of plastic in the oceans will increase 10 times by 2020 (website) and by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans by weight than fish (website). Recently, a dead whale in the Philippines contained more than 88 pounds of plastic in its stomach (website). Has anyone asked what happens to that plastic when we eat the fish that live in our oceans?

The global annual production of plastic exceeded 350 million tons in 2013. By 2015, the world had produced 7.8 billion tons of plastic. Back in the day, single-use plastic seemed like a great idea — but we are overproducing it, drowning in it, and making the entire planet sick in the process. And it is time to re-think single use plastic beverages.  Recycling has failed to fix the ultimate problem.

According to Greenpeace (website) and the Breakfree from Plastics Movement (website) the top four plastic polluters in the WORLD are, from highest to lowest, Coca Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle and Dannone.

This conversation is not simply about the birds and the bees or “fishees” in the ocean.  This conversation is about the world in which human beings live and the net effect plastic has on human beings, current and future generations. It is impossible to argue that plastic is good for mankind.  It is convenient and it is less expensive, but that does not make it acceptable. Food and Beverage companies need to take responsibility for the damage they are doing to promote their bottom line.

Use of Plastic in the Beverage Industry

The beverage industry is one of the major players in the plastic packaging market — especially the companies that produce soft drinks, like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. According to Greenpeace, Coca-Cola Company alone produced more than 100 billion plastic bottles in 2016. And if we compare this statistic to the data stating that over 90% of plastic isn’t recycled, it becomes easier to put the beverage industry plastic pollution into context.

In the earlier years, these big names in the industry committed to plastic, believing (or simply stating) that they would increase their efforts to reclaim and recycling it. However, with a lack of deposit systems and financial incentives to recycle, the system ended up being wasteful. Around 70% of bottles are never reclaimed, which leads to a low recycling rate. According to Euromonitor data, less than 7% of recycled bottles were turned into new bottles.

Beverage giants like Pepsi are aiming to start using biodegradable plastic. However, according to some experts, this will take a long time to accomplish, because the packaging must still be able to preserve the contents. What’s more, even biodegradable plastic can release damaging gases into the air, such as methane.

Initiatives against the Use of Plastic

https://time.com/4186250/ocean-plastic-fish/

Slowly but surely, the public opinion grows harsher towards plastic, especially single-use plastic that is most responsible for pollution. More and more initiatives against it are cropping up, and we might soon ensure that the industry as a whole takes a turn to a different direction.

One of the most notable ones is the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, which was launched in 2018 by Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) and UN Environment. It has 250 corporate signatories, including Danone, PepsiCo, and Coca-Cola Co.

All of the signatories committed to a few decisive actions to complete by 2025:

  • to take action to eliminate unnecessary or problematic plastic packaging;
  • to move away from single-use models towards reuse models where that’s possible;
  • to use recyclable content in all their plastic packaging;
  • to make 100% of their plastic packaging reusable, compostable or recyclable.

While these efforts to make plastic packaging recyclable and to improve our recycling systems are a step in the right direction, perhaps we need to look away from synthetic substitutes and slightly different alternatives. There are much more sustainable packaging solutions, one of which the beverage industry has used in the past. Of course, that would be glass packaging.

Use of Returnable or Recyclable Glass Bottles

In 2012, we saw the last ever returnable glass Coca-Cola bottle pass away into beverage history. Soft drinks and glass bottles used to be great friends in the early days of the industry, as the glass bottles were able to endure the pressure of carbonation.

However, the practice of returning glass bottles had nothing to do with sustainability or environment preservation back in the day. The reasons why consumers were incentivized to return glass bottles to the manufacturer with a bottle refund fee were the price and difficulty of the manufacturing process. The bottles were therefore considered company property, and consumers would return them to be refilled and reused.

Eventually, the glass bottle was overshadowed by the plastic model, as it was much easier and less expensive to transport plastic safely. Plastic bottles were considered to be more lightweight, resistant to breakage, and therefore superior in every way when compared to glass bottles. The environmental impact wasn’t considered or analyzed.

Benefits of Reusing Glass Bottles

http://www.fashionrepublik.com/virgil-abloh-designs-evians-first-reusable-glass-bottle/

What beverage companies were unaware of was that the practice of reusable glass bottles helped keep excessive amounts of waste from the landfills. But as it turns out, plastic isn’t the superior packaging material in any aspect other than weight and resistance to breakage. Glass bottles are more hygienic, and more capable of preserving the contents without a change in flavor, strength, and aroma — not to mention their aesthetic appeal.

Overall, there are multiple benefits to returning to the practice of using glass bottles for the packaging of soft drinks. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to returning reusable glass bottles as the industry standard is the way things are done nowadays.

Since there is no standard glass packaging, every bottle looks different. That makes reusing more difficult, as we have to sort our glass bottles meticulously to determine which ones we can recycle, and which ones we can return and where. The process for the consumer isn’t straightforward — but could it become more so?

Could Beverage Industry Start Using Glass Bottles Again?

If we take a look back, we could find the time where most liquids were packaged into glass bottles to be refilled and reused, and learn from it. Before World War II, that used to be the industry standard. However, all glass bottles were identical and therefore, easily reusable.

That would make the process easier to re-implement today. Beverage companies tend to avoid reusable glass bottles because the difference in design requires extra efforts in sorting. What’s more, collecting and transporting reusable glass bottles requires more storage facilities and labor. For most beverage companies, that would mean involving the retailers into the collection and shipment, which overly complicates the process, especially when compared to single-use plastic.

However, it would still be possible to reintroduce reusable glass bottles as the industry standard. It might take some time, but the results are worth it: 93% less energy consumed by a refillable bottle that can be reused 25 times, as opposed to one-way glass bottles. Of course, when compared to plastic it becomes even more evident how much better reusable glass bottles are: the use of energy in MJ and the CO2 equivalent of its Global Warming Potential is the lowest of all container materials.

Reusable Glass Bottles and the Glass Bottle Market

Reusable glass bottles will be the clear favorite if we wish to implement more sustainable practices. However, it would require preparation, as we would have to standardize our glass containers to make the process easier.

Today, companies that make refillable glass containers have packages of different sizes and shapes, even colors. This might be a contributing factor in the low return rates of refillable glass bottles (that also contributed to the eventual decrease in their use).

But what if bottles were standardized, and returned locally for sanitization and refilling? Then we could implement the reuse of glass bottles on a bigger scale, and ensure that one bottle does get returned 25 to 30 times to maximize sustainability.

The glass bottles and containers market is also growing, and showing potential for more progress thanks to European consumers. It’s predicted to reach $76 million in value by 2024. Most of it was glass for recycling and not refilling — European average recycling rate is an estimated 54%, as opposed to the reuse rate of 7%.

Aluminum Cans are Another Possible Solution   

https://visual.ly/community/infographic/environment/interesting-facts-about-aluminum

According to Chasinggreen.com, aluminum is 100% recyclable and can be recycled almost indefinitely without loss of quality or durability. They can be recycled, repurposed, and back in the store in as little as two months and the average recycling rate of aluminum cans 68%, the highest rate of recycling of any resource. The use of recycled aluminum in manufacturing utilizes 95% less energy than creating aluminum from raw materials.

However, there is also a negative side of aluminum cans. The aluminum industry was responsible for 140 million tons of CO2 production in 2005 alone and it is a non-renewable resource. It also takes 2-4 tons of bauxite to produce just one ton of aluminum through smelting and refining. Aluminum production spends over $2.3 billion annually for energy. Most of that energy is used to create aluminum: over 1 quadrillion Btu of electricity a year and some research suggests that BPA, a chemical lining found in some aluminum cans, may pose health risks.

What Consumers Think

One of the most critical pieces of the puzzle will be the consumer, requiring a change in behavior to move from pollution to sustainability. The good news is that consumers are becoming more environmentally aware and putting more stock into sustainable products and solutions.

According to a report by Pro Carton, 75% of European consumers have stated that the environmental impact of the packaging of a product affects their purchasing decisions. What’s more, they are also influenced by the media coverage of pollution, especially when it comes to marine pollution.

The majority of consumers tend to prefer more environmentally-friendly options while shopping, especially if it doesn’t cost them much extra to help preserve the planet. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t prepared to pay more: 77% of Pro Carton survey responders said they were prepared to do so. In addition to that, 58% of them would support increased taxes on non-sustainable packaging in order to incentivize brands to think harder about their environmental impact.

All of these statistics are very encouraging and clearly show that we’re ready to start making crucial changes. Even the major players thinking only about profit can benefit from meeting consumer demand for sustainability.

It’s Time for Glass Again

Can the beverage industry’s use of pollution-inducing plastic packaging end? It certainly can. While there are some disagreements on which materials should replace plastic, the message is still loud and clear — beverage companies and entrepreneurs have to change their ways.

Glass packaging, especially reusable glass bottles, could be the answer to the environmental crisis we now face. With a low carbon footprint and multiple other benefits regarding the quality of packaging, glass would be a great choice. And if we made an effort to make reusing glass bottles more accessible and more standardized, market research shows that consumers would rise to the occasion and help make it the new industry standard.

Reducing plastic pollution should be one of the main priorities of the beverage industry. To accomplish this task, now might be the time to start using glass again.

Key Takeaways

It’s our responsibility as beverage industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and consumers to demand and facilitate change. Today, every link of the beverage industry chain might be ready to commit to making this change a reality.

Getting rid of the beverage industry’s share of plastic pollution by implementing more sustainable options, glass bottles or even re-usable glass bottles, might be of utmost importance for the future of this blue planet. If we don’t turn away from plastic now and start repairing the damage we’ve made, it might be too late in a few decades or even a few years.

It is time to admit the conversion to plastic from glass has failed and these companies continue to fail mankind in favor of profits. Human beings are almost equally complicity by purchasing these products. It is time for the Big Four to eliminate plastic products and force competitors to convert as well.  It is time to end plastic for profit over convenience.

Why Large Food and Beverage Companies Fail at New Product Development

Example of New Product Failure: Colgate Lasagna
Example of New Product Failure: Colgate Lasagna

In the food and beverage industry, even the giants can have a hard time developing and launching new products. However, their troubles are usually entirely different from that of a food and beverage entrepreneur. These huge companies have all the advantages of troves of data, experienced marketing departments, and plenty of resources to make the new product succeed. But they still fail.

In fact, according to multiple sources, approximately 80% of new products developed by large food and beverage companies end up failing. This is a staggering statistic that perfectly showcases the scope of the problem. But why does this happen so often, and is there a solution that can turn this trend around? Let’s have a closer look at why large food and beverage companies fail at product development:

Big Companies and Innovation Struggles

As technology began to advance, most innovation in the food and beverage sector was tied to finding ways to prolong a product’s shelf life or get it to consumers faster. But today the market’s needs and appetites have grown way beyond this, especially as the consumers’ attitude towards food and nutrients changes. 

Consumers are becoming more aware that what they eat and drink has a significant impact on their health, so they are seeking out the best possible options. That’s why large companies that don’t have a lineup of healthy, good-for-you products are finding themselves in a problem when developing new products. And unfortunately, the vast majority of big food and beverage companies falls into this group, as the trailblazers of new healthier trends are usually smaller businesses and food entrepreneurs.

To Reformulate or to Relaunch?

According to IRI, of 10,000 new products that are launched every year, as much as 90% fails to achieve sales goals. In fact, many of them aren’t even around two or three years down the road, which makes launching entirely new products a risky undertaking for most companies. In most cases, they decide to reformulate or relaunch their existing products to make them more appealing to the changing public opinion on how our food and beverages should be.

If we take a look at Consumer Good Forum statistics, we can see that 66% of their members have reported having reformulated some of their products in 2016. Some of the most common changes implemented in product reformulation are reducing the amount of sugar and sodium, adding vitamins, or using healthier alternatives to certain staples (such as switching to whole grains).

Declining Sales and New Product Launch Fails

The main reason for relaunching existing products is declining sales. Between 2012 and 2015, the U.S. retail sales of the top 25 food and beverage giants have gone down from 66% to 63%, according to the study Is Big Food In Trouble by The Hartman Group and A.T. Kearney.

However, the need for change hasn’t prevented new product development and launch fails. A few reasons stand out. There were cases of companies making the wrong conclusions on what the market needed, developing products that didn’t fit with their brand image, and choosing the wrong trends to chase.

Wrong Conclusions on Market Wants and Needs

Despite having a wealth of data at their disposal regarding products, taste tests, and market research, sometimes companies just fail to ask themselves whether someone will be willing to buy the product and at what price.

For example, let’s have a look at Coca-Cola’s C2, their attempt from 2004 to gain the favor of a target market that’s been avoiding their products. C2 was meant to be a middle ground between classic Coke and Diet Coke. The idea was to capture the interest of 20- to 40-year-old men, who were mindful of their calorie intake while avoiding Diet Coke because of its general appeal to women.

However, C2 only had half the calories and carbs of a classic Coke — it wasn’t a complete no-calorie version like Diet Coke. As such, its qualities weren’t distinctive enough to allow it to stand out in the market, even if it did (in theory) need a similar option. The target consumers simply didn’t find it appealing enough.

Just because a Company spends a lot of money on or does a lot of consumer research doesn’t mean they are correct. If that were true, Coke and Pepsi, and other conglomerates like them, would never fail. But that is not the case.

Research needs to be combined with gut instinct to be successful. If you look at the most successful, “new”, innovative and disruptive brands, none of them used expensive and extensive consumer research in the beginning:

Amazon
Bai
Boom Chicka Pop
Deep River Snacks
Dirty Lemon
Dirty Potato Chips
Fiji
GT Kombucha
Kettle Chips
Keurig
Liquid Death
Mama Chia
Monster
Naked Juice
Netflix
Perky Jerky
Pirate’s Booty
Red Bull
Smart Water
Sophie’s Kitchen
Starbucks
Vita Coco
Vitamin Water
Voss
Whole Foods
Zico

The Product Doesn’t Fit with the Brand

Big companies also face difficulties trying to expand their lines or launch new ones with products that stand out from what they were known to do. When many companies first reformulate their existing lines and launch new products that are more in line with the new brand image, there are sometimes cases where the consumers aren’t prepared for the change.

More often than not, these fails come from a brand branching out into the food and beverage industry — such as Colgate’s frozen lasagna or Cosmopolitan’s yogurt. However, that isn’t to say that food and beverage giants are immune to developing products that just don’t fit with the brand image, whether that’s in a big or a small way.

Trying to Capitalize on a Trend

Finally, one of the biggest and most frequent causes of new product development fails is chasing the wrong trends or fads. When a company is too early or too late to the current consumer preferences party, it inevitably brings low interest and even lower sales. Trends like low-carb diets have proven fleeting, which is something Coca-Cola has felt with their C2 release as well. 

However, some notable innovations are still prevalent in the food and beverage industry. Alternatives to dairy, Greek yogurt, free-from foods, plant-based protein suitable for a vegan diet, etc. have mostly been brought on by smaller companies or entrepreneurs. It’s therefore essential for food and beverage giants to correctly interpret their market data, and accurately predict the coming market trends that are here to stay.

Key TakeawaysBig food and beverage companies and smaller businesses alike need to watch for industry insights and anticipate market trends. Staying true to your brand is more important than ever, as that prevents consumer confusion or disappointment. However, it’s even more crucial to adapt to the changes in the industry and the growing market demand for healthier food and drink options.