LAS VEGAS — In its quest to become a total beverage company, The Coca-Cola Co. has added a number of firsts to its portfolio, including its first-ever cold-brew coffee, 100% vegetable juice blend and alkaline water. The products, which debuted at the 2018 NACS Show in Las Vegas, tap into trending categories and insights, said JC Harvey, director of retail channel strategy and commercialization at Atlanta-based Coca-Cola.
“It’s an exciting time for us because we’re doing a lot across new and existing categories and innovating like never before,” Mr. Harvey told Food Business News during an interview at the show, which was held Oct. 7-10.
Far Coast is the company’s foray into the cold-brew coffee segment. Slated to launch in January, the products are packaged in resealable aluminum bottles and feature single-origin coffee beans. Varieties include Single Source Ethiopian, Signature Blend Latin American and Café con Leche.
Also new to Coca-Cola’s coffee portfolio is Dunkin’ Shot in the Dark, which combines the donut brand’s coffee with a touch of cream and sugar, plus espresso.
In the premium water category, Coca-Cola’s smartwater brand is expanding with two varieties: smartwater alkaline and smartwater antioxidant. Like the original product, both are vapor-distilled with added electrolytes for taste. The antioxidant water is infused with selenium. Alkaline water is ionized and has a higher pH level than regular drinking water. (Coca-Cola was among several brands featuring alkaline water at the NACS Show).
“People are asking more from their water,” Mr. Harvey said. “Premium water is booming, and so we’re building off of that trend and giving people what they’re asking for.”
Joining the Minute Maid lineup is the company’s first-ever 100% vegetable juice blend of tomato, carrot, celery, cucumber and beet juices. Each 12-oz bottle contains 70 calories, 100% daily value of vitamin C and 140% daily value of vitamin A.
“People have been asking when Minute Maid is going to launch a tomato juice blend,” Mr. Harvey said.
Another trending beverage segment is sparkling lemonades, Mr. Harvey said. Coca-Cola is introducing Sprite Lymonade, which combines the soft drink brand’s classic lemon-lime flavor with a splash of lemon juice, adding texture and tartness. The product will launch in February.
Coca-Cola also unveiled a range of ready-to-drink smoothies featuring 100% fruit juices and purees. Simply Smoothie varieties include strawberry banana, mango pineapple and orchard berry.
“Fifty-one per cent of consumers tell us they enjoy a smoothie in the morning but also in the afternoon as a snack,” Mr. Harvey said. “This is perfect for the convenience channel, which is all about grab-and-go.”
Additionally, the company showcased a new extension to the Zico organic coconut water brand. Zico coco-lixir pairs coconut water and cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices. Varieties include Unbe-leaf-able, with cucumber, celery, spinach, lemon, parsley, kale and ginger; For Lemon’s Sake, with pineapple, lemon, ginger and turmeric; and Turn Up the Beet, with carrot, blueberry, apple, beet and lemon.
“That’s what it means to be a total beverage company — creating products consumers need based on the occasion consumers want to consume it.” — JC Harvey, the Coca-Cola Co.
“That’s what it means to be a total beverage company — creating products consumers need based on the occasion consumers want to consume it,” Mr. Harvey said.
Much of Coca-Cola’s recent innovation is driven by insights on the Generation Z consumer, who is 14 to 25 years old and an important shopper for the convenience channel, Mr. Harvey said. To connect with Gen Z consumers, retailers and manufacturers must deliver engaging experiences and offer variety and convenience.
“This generation will drive the beverage trends for the near future, and this is the channel of their choice, so on average about 7.8 trips per month,” he said.
One way in which Coca-Cola is collaborating with convenience stores to engage Gen Z is through the new Arctic Coke platform, an interactive machine that transforms a bottled beverage into a slushy treat. The company began testing the concept in select stores in June 2016.