From mergers and acquisitions to new product developments, 2021 has seen a number of interesting events taking place in the HoReCa sectors – even despite major setbacks caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
As 2021 comes to an end, FoodBev Media tasks a look at the top 10 Refreshment stories featured on our website this year.
1. PepsiCo’s Bubly Bounce caffeinated sparkling water
The beginning of 2021 saw the launch of PepsiCo-owned caffeinated sparkling water brand Bubly Bounce.
Bubly Bounce sparkling water is available in five flavours: mango passion fruit, triple berry, blood orange grapefruit, citrus cherry and blueberry pomegranate.
Featuring no sweeteners or artificial flavours, the drinks are available in 12oz and 16oz cans, providing 35mg of caffeine per 12oz can and 47mg of caffeine per 16oz can.
“As more individuals seek out sparkling waters with added benefits, Bubly bounce delivers all of the delicious flavour and hydration of the original, now with just a kick of caffeine,” said Zach Harris, VP water portfolio at PepsiCo Beverages North America.
2. Evian’s evian+ functional flavoured water range
In March, Danone’s Evian brand entered the functional sparkling water category with the launch of evian+ in the US.
The evian+ range features four flavour combinations: raspberry & ginseng, lime & ginger, grapefruit & basil, and cucumber & mint. All four variants contain zero sugars, zero sweeteners, zero calories and are enriched with magnesium and zinc to support cognitive function, as well as being packaged in fully-recyclable aluminium cans – a reported first for the Evian brand.
Shweta Harit, VP of marketing at Evian, said: “The introduction of a sparkling flavoured functional water reflects the importance of adapting to consumer habits. We are delivering the pure taste of Evian natural mineral water in a new and fun way, as we continue to act and support a generation who seek to become the best version of their true selves.”
3. Coca-Cola’s Freestyle fountain dispenser – 7100
The Coca-Cola Company introduced its Freestyle countertop fountain dispenser, which gives smaller-footprint restaurants the ability to offer more than 80 beverage choices.
Coca-Cola Freestyle 7100 features a 24-inch, high-definition touchscreen and an intuitive user interface. Available in red or black, the dispenser is powered by the Freestyle Operating System (FOS), which delivers over-the-air software updates, an enhanced diagnostics dashboard with real-time drink inventory levels and ‘self-healing’ maintenance capabilities.
A new content management system enables restaurants to promote new marketing content and add new beverage brands and categories.
“We are always designing the next generation of the Coca-Cola Freestyle platform by innovating in response to feedback and in-market learnings with hardware and software upgrades that both meet our customers’ operational needs and engage consumers with a premium fountain beverage experience,” said Felica Hale, VP of equipment strategy, The Coca-Cola Company.
4. Nestlé’s coffee-flavoured S.Pellegrino Essenza line
In spring this year, Nestlé added an RTD coffee line to its S.Pellegrino Essenza portfolio of flavoured sparkling mineral waters.
S.Pellegrino Essenza products are gently caffeinated, with three flavour combinations: vanilla & coffee, cocoa & coffee, and caramel & coffee. The zero-calorie line is free from sweeteners and contains 30mg of caffeine.
Sara Mayer, S.Pellegrino’s senior marketing manager, said: “Building on the popularity of our S.Pellegrino Essenza, featuring fresh Mediterranean fruit flavours, we turned to Italian coffee bars as inspiration for this new line”.
©S.Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water
5. PepsiCo offloads majority stake in juice business for $3.3bn
PepsiCo agreed to sell certain juice assets across North America and Europe to private equity firm PAI Partners for $3.3 billion.
The agreement, which is expected to close at the end of this year or in early 2022, includes a controlling stake in Tropicana, Naked and other select juice brands across North America, as well as an irrevocable option to sell certain juice businesses in Europe.
Upon completion of the transaction, PepsiCo will retain a 39% non-controlling minority interest in a newly-formed joint venture managed by PAI Partners. The soft drinks giant will also retain exclusive US distribution rights for the brands for the small-format and foodservice channels.
PepsiCo said the sale will enable it to focus on growing its portfolio of healthier snacks, zero-calorie beverages and better-for-you products.
“This joint venture with PAI enables us to realise significant upfront value, whilst providing the focus and resources necessary to drive additional long-term growth for these beloved brands,” said PepsiCo’s chairman and CEO, Ramon Laguarta. “In addition, it will free us to concentrate on our current portfolio of diverse offerings, including growing our portfolio of healthier snacks, zero-calorie beverages, and products like SodaStream which are focused on being better for people and the planet.”
PAI Partners will become the majority shareholder of the transferred juice business, which will join previous investments such as Addo Food Group, Winterbotham Darby and Ecotone, formerly known as Wessanen.
PepsiCo plans to use the proceeds from the sale to strengthen its balance sheet and make organic investments in the business.
6. Unilever and Co-op’s smart ice cream vending machine
May 2021 saw UK retailer Co-op partnering with Unilever to launch a smart ice cream vending machine in its Battersea Bridge Road store in London.
The machine is said to be the UK’s first and only consumer-facing smart ice cream vending machine. The Walls branded machine stocks a range of ice cream products, including Co-op’s Fairtrade Choc Stick, Magnum Vegan Stick, Walls Twister, Solero and more.
To purchase the ice cream products, consumers need to tap their phone on the “NFC” tag on the vending machine. Customers are then prompted to confirm their payment method, which includes Apple Pay and Google Pay.
Once payment is confirmed, the freezer door unlocks to allow the customer to select their chosen ice cream, with a combination of cameras and sensors ensuring the machine charges customers for only the products they have picked once they close the freezer door.
7. Coca-Cola GB ends use of virgin plastic in on-the-go bottles
In July, Coca-Cola – in partnership with Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) – announced the transition to 100% recycled plastic in all on-the-go bottles in Great Britain.
The transition involved all 500ml or less plastic bottles and covers the company’s entire portfolio of brands such as Coca-Cola Original Taste, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Dr Pepper and Lilt.
The achievement sees Coca-Cola Great Britain scale the amount of recycled plastic material used in on-the-go bottles from its 50% milestone to 100%. The shift to 100% rPET bottles follows in the footsteps of other markets, including the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
Coca-Cola projects that its use of recycled plastics in the region now saves 29,000 tonnes of virgin plastic each year. Additionally, the soft drinks giant is completing the transition from plastic shrink wrap to cardboard packaging across all multipacks.
Helen Bird, strategic technical manager of WRAP, added: “It takes 75% less energy to make a plastic bottle from recycled plastic, and with plastic waste significantly contributing to fossil emissions when incinerated it’s never been more important to specify recycled content and keep packaging in a circular system”.
Stephen Moorhouse, general manager at CCEP GB, said: “Increasing the amount of recycled plastic we use is a critical point in our sustainable packaging journey and reaching 100% rPET puts us one step closer to achieving our ambition of a world without waste – collecting and recycling a bottle or can for everyone that we sell by 2025.”
8. Evoca and coffee vending machine manufacturer Macas announce JV
Evoca Group and Chinese coffee vending machine manufacturer, Macas Electronic Technology Company (Macas), agreed to establish a joint venture this year.
Guangzhou-headquartered Macas is a prominent manufacturer of coffee vending machines and bean-to-cup coffee machines in China, and has expertise in digital technologies such as graphical user interfaces, cashless payment systems and cloud-based machine management.
The new joint venture aims to establish both companies as leading providers of coffee vending machines in China and Asia by leveraging their expertise.
Andrea Zocchi, Evoca CEO, said: “Evoca and its well-known brands (including Saeco, Gaggia Milano, Necta) have been present in the Asian market for well over 20 years. We think the time is right to establish an operating platform in China to provide a faster response to market needs and to promote research and product development that is specific to this region.”
9. Nestlé buys functional water brand Essentia Water
One of the largest sector acquisitions was carried out by Nestlé USA, which bought functional water brand Essentia Water for an undisclosed sum.
Alkaline water company Essentia uses a proprietary process to ionise water, delivering a pH of 9.5 or higher.
Nestlé revealed it was reviewing options for the unit in June 2020, as it announced that it would pursue a new strategic direction for its global water business, with an increased focus on its international brands, premium mineral waters and functional water products. The acquisition of Essentia is part of the continued transformation of the business.
“With the addition of Essentia, we continue to transform and best position our water business for long-term profitable growth here in the US and globally,” said Steve Presley, chairman and CEO of Nestlé USA.
He added: “We are excited to welcome the Essentia team to the Nestlé family as we expand our premium water portfolio. Essentia gives us an immediate strong presence in the high-growth, functional water segment and supports our efforts to capture opportunities with emerging consumer trends such as healthy hydration.”
10. Lavazza Professional’s Flavia C600 coffee machine
Closing the top 10, Lavazza Professional launched its latest coffee machine in the UK – Flavia Creation 600 (C600).
The launch of Flavia C600 came in anticipation of workplaces reopening in the UK, with the company also introducing a new range of coffee options to UK workplaces for the first time as part of a reimagined drinks menu.
Users can order drinks using an app, while the machine also provides drink customisation options, milk frothing technology, can dispense up to 20 drink choices, and is reportedly easy to maintain.
Notably, the machine can also use plant-based milks such as soy or almond milk, with the company stating that there is ‘zero-risk of cross-contamination,’ making it a suitable solution for vegan users.
Ralph Francis, distributor manager and indirect channel sales director at Lavazza Professional, said: “The expression ‘game-changer’ is so overused these days; but in this case, ‘game-changer’ is an accurate description of this machine and its capabilities”.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2022
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