Innovative Convenience

 

The NACS Show is always a good place to see the latest consumer-driven, innovative beverage trends and this year’s show, slated for October 12-15 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, promises a dynamic showcase of new and popular beverages.

Every year, the NACS Show brings together convenience and fuel retailing industry professionals for educational sessions as well as networking, buying and selling on the expo floor. Last year’s show drew more than 24,000 attendees coming from 65 countries with a record number of buyers, 9,764 to be exact. And the show featured 1,176 exhibiting companies, with 150 companies waitlisted for the expo.

More than 150 packaged beverage companies—from Monster to Ito En to Bai Brand—will be displaying products on the show floor this year. According to Leigh Walls, director of NACS Exhibit Sales and Services, the number of beverage companies exhibiting at the show has doubled in the past 10 years.

“Continued interest from new beverage suppliers is apparent as more companies join the waitlist for a chance to exhibit at this year’s event to showcase their product innovations,” she says.

The NACS Show has become an important showcase for beverage companies as the convenience store channel continues to be a launching pad for consumer-driven beverages, especially single-serve drinks. According to NACS State of the Industry, in 2012 the packaged beverages category, which includes bottled water, energy drinks, sports drinks, juices, soft drinks and alternative drinks, saw a 9.5 percent increase in sales in the c-store channel.

Jeff Lenard, NACS spokesperson, points out that 160 million Americans go to c-stores, so this channel represents a tremendous opportunity for beverage companies to get in front of a significant portion of the population.

“Convenience stores are a place where people sample new products,” he says. “At the NACS Show, beverage manufacturers, especially those looking to debut new products, have the ability to quickly get in front of the public.”

Bawls Guarana will be exhibiting its line of guarana-infused sodas at the show. The brand, which is under new ownership, is seeking new distributors to help it expand in the C-store channel, according to Maria Montes, marketing director at Bawls Guarana.

“Considering the nature of our product and that we compete in the energy drink market, the convenience store channel is one of the best channels for our product and we have a great audience for it there,” Montes says.
Convenience store retailers are focused on increasing the selection and variety of beverages they sell to appeal to consumer demand, and this will surely be reflected on the NACS Show floor.

While energy drinks and energy shots will be a popular category at the show, other functional beverage companies will be vying for attendees’ attention as well, such as Chobani, the Greek yogurt brand, Bai Brands, the maker of antioxidant infusions and Monster Beverage’s Peace Tea. Attendees can check out new products like Karma Wellness Water as well as New Age functional drinks like Ayala’s Herbal Water, which is exhibiting at the NACS Show for the first time this year.

The founder of Ayala’s Herbal Water, Ayala Laufer-Cahana, says the brand, which is a line of waters infused with organic and natural herbs, is expanding beyond specialty and organic retailers into the convenience store channel and the NACS Show is a good opportunity to showcase the three product lines.

“Consumers now expect healthier offerings, not just at the health food store, but wherever they shop and wherever they travel. Convenience stores are viewed positively for offering healthier fare. There’s a devoted and growing audience for Ayala’s Herbal Water as people’s preferences and tastes have shifted, and more people are moving away from soda and seeking a healthier, natural drink that satisfies,” she says. The company will be showing its new herbal tea line, such as Rooibos Cinnamon Rose Petal, during the expo.

As at previous shows, this year’s expo will feature the Cool New Products Preview Room where attendees can locate new products in specific categories, such as eco-friendly, health & wellness, new flavors and new design.

And yet another highlight of this year’s show, Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Secretary of State and former U.S. Senator from New York, will speak during the Closing General Session on Oct. 15.

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