Powdered flavor

by Allison Sebolt
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The trend of "personalization" continues to emerge, and it is becoming a fairly common sight to see a consumer carrying a bottle of water, pulling out a drink mix, emptying it into the bottle and shaking it to create a more flavorful beverage.

The market has grown since the introduction of Crystal Light on The Go from Kraft Foods Inc., Northfield, Ill., and storability, perceived health benefits and convenience will be key drivers of future sales of the concentrates, according to Euromonitor International, Chicago. The on-the-go packets are especially notable as they represent single-serve options and boast of just 5 calories per serving and being sugarfree and low in carbohydrates. Unilever Foods North America also followed in this concept with Lipton Ice Tea to Go.

With a variety of vitamin-enhanced Crystal Light varieties such as Antioxidant Green Tea Honey Lemon, Green Tea Raspberry, Energy Wild Strawberry and Immunity Cherry Pomegranate, it is clear Kraft wants to carve out a health niche with the products.

"The products’ appeal to the on-the-go consumer — a reflection of our non-stop society," said Gary Hemphill, managing director with Beverage Marketing Corp., New York. "The single-serve sizes bring portability to a category known previously almost exclusively for its usage in the home."

Even more recently Crystal Light introduced Focus Citrus Splash, which is enhanced with caffeine and has zinc and vitamin C, and Metabolism+ Peach Mango Green Tea, a blend of natural green tea antioxidants and caffeine for a short-term metabolism boost.

Euromonitor said Kraft has 63% of off-trade values for concentrates in 2007 as a result of the Crystal Light and Kool-Aid brands. While the Crystal Light products are specifically targeted to women, the Kool-Aid products are for children.

"Today’s women make smart, educated choices about their health, and the new Crystal Light varieties are a great way to help get essential nutrients as well as a great way to add delicious flavor to their water," said Carolina Yepes, senior brand manager.

More longtime product leaders in the powdered drink segment include Kraft’s Country Time lemonade and Tang orange flavored drink.

According to the Global New Products Database from Mintel, Chicago, other notable recently introduced drink mixes include Food Club’s Thirst Splashers To Go! Drink Mix Packets, which have 5 calories and no sugar or carbohydrates; Global Brands’ Shake ‘N’ Go lemonade, which also

has 5 calories and no carbohydrates; Lipton Iced Tea to

Go Energize Blueberry Pomegranate Ice Tea Mix, which is sugar free and zero calories per serving; To Go Brands Acai Natural Energy Boost Drink with acai and six other organic super fruit powders and extracts, low carbohydrates and no sugar.

In addition, Mintel noted Gatorade has Thirst Quencher Powder Packs with natural orange and other natural flavors, Kellogg’s All-Bran has Fiber Drink Mixes with 10 grams of fiber and vitamins B6, 12, folic acid and niacin, and Arizona Diet Green Tea Mix with Ginseng, which is flavored with Splenda and has no carbohydrates or calories.

"Many new product launches in powder concentrates are now coupled with launches in other soft drink sectors," Euromonitor said. "It has become commonplace for a new energy drink, sports drink or R.-T.-D. tea brand to offer a powder concentrate version alongside its initial launch. The success or failure of these products is often tied to the performance of the overall brand."

As an example, Euromonitor said Propel Powder packets did well after the 2007 launch given the strength of the functional water brand, while Accelerade powder drink mix from Cadbury Schweppes struggled along with the sports drink brand.

Euromonitor also said adding functional ingredients such as glucosamine, Co-Q10 or omega-3 and offering antioxidant-rich flavors such as pomegranate, blueberry and acai are recommended to increase interest in powdered concentrate brands.

Another interesting drink flavoring concept comes from Amerilab Technologies, Inc. in the form of Fizzies Drink Tablets. The goal of the tablets is to make popular again the effervescent drink tablet by offering tablets in the flavors of cherry, lemonade, blue razz and orange.

"In developing the new Fizzies, we wanted to expand the experience that users of the first product enjoyed back in the 1960s but also improve it for a new generation," said Fred Wehling, president and chief executive officer of Amerilab Technologies. "In our focus groups with adults ages 29 to 45, half fondly remembered Fizzies, including specific flavor offerings and packaging. They also recalled the product as being fun and tasting good and anticipated their children would enjoy Fizzies, too. We’re happy to be involved in the relaunch of this memorable soft drink beverage."

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Food Business News, June 24, 2008, starting on Page 89. Click
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