Category: General Blogs
Moderation is a commonly used term in the alcoholic beverage industry, but maybe it should be applied to the beverage industry as a whole.
I think so much of the news coverage of the beverage industry today is bursting with extreme language. “This or that is bad for you, cut it out of your diet completely!” “This is great for you, drink nothing but this; replace everything you drink with it!”
Come on now. What ever happened to what we used to call the ‘Happy Medium’? Have a little of this, a little of that. It won’t kill you.
I was recently interviewing Matt McLean, the CEO and founder of Uncle Matt’s Organic juice, and the conversation quickly turned to all the negative publicity the juice category had been receiving lately from the press. Those of you who have been following the category already know that in the eyes of some people, a glass of orange juice is no different than any drink high in sugar. “Sugar = bad,” these folks say, and therefore anything that contains it should be avoided like the plague.
I think it’s time we moved passed such all-or-nothing declarations. The science just doesn’t support it, for one thing. In fact, current science is beginning to observe that medicine is not the exact science we’d all love it to be. The latest research shows that different people, depending on their ancestry (basically their genealogies) are much better at tolerating and digesting certain types of foods and beverages than others. And what’s more, they have even developed immunities that those from other gene pools have not. In other words, certain ingredients, yes, including sugar, may be perfectly harmless for whole swaths of the population.
In our conversation, McLean pointed out that his brand’s core product, orange juice, yes, has natural sugar, but it is also a “nutrient dense” beverage. “It is not a sugary soda so it breaks down in the body differently,” he told me. “And when eaten with a meal it helps the uptake of those nutrients even better.”
It got me thinking that, like we recently got it wrong with fats (remember “all fats=bad”?), are we now doing the same thing with sugar? Is the media painting sugar with such a broad brush that we are depriving ourselves of all the nutrition, and pleasure, that comes from downing a cold, refreshing glass of orange juice?
I recently read a story in The NY Times about how sales of digital books have suddenly stalled, while print book sales have started rising again. What does this have to do with beverages, you might ask? Well, print had been written off—pardon the pun—a while ago. But not so fast! It appears some people like to sometimes read a digital book, but they also sometimes like to read on paper. The same may go for any beverage category that may be challenged today—orange juice, macro beers, macro sodas, you name it. Don’t believe the negative hype. There’s probably a happy medium in there somewhere.
Category: General Blogs
We are a little behind in announcing the winners of this year's Global Packaging Design Awards. Stay tuned! They will be announced in the coming weeks...
Thanks to everyone who entered this year....
As we were putting this issue to bed late last month, news broke that a California judge had dismissed a suit claiming that Jim Beam falsely claimed on its label that the product was “handcrafted.”
The judge wrote: “A reasonable consumer wouldn’t interpret the word ‘handcrafted’ on a bourbon bottle to mean the product is literally ‘created by a hand process rather than by a machine.’”
We had been following this story and other related stories for months. In fact, two similar lawsuits against Maker’s Mark bourbon, another Beam Suntory brand, were dismissed this year. Those suits also focused on the bottle labeling, which also touted the bourbon as handmade.
Hearing of all of the stories—legal cases, really—surrounding beverage labeling prompted us to look into the issue. The result is this month’s cover story written by Heather Landi [page 55].
The issues are much greater and more complex than it just being about marketers making claims on their labels, as the story points out. They incorporate widely debated issues over ingredients and what and how ingredients are listed on a label that include federal legislation that is under consideration.
As Heather writes: “The legislation comes at a time when the issue of transparency in the food and beverage business is a hot topic as consumers are increasingly demanding that food and beverage brands come clean about what is and isn’t in the products, where the products were produced and how they were manufactured.”
Millennials are much more label-savvy than their predecessors. Fueled by the immediacy and omnipresence of social media, their perceived issues about a product’s authenticity or ingredients are shared and amplified way beyond what product marketers have experienced before.
This demand for more information about products has an emerging technology component, and one related to the product label as well.
“Next generation” product codes, similar to ubiquitous product barcodes, are in development that will allow products to carry information that consumers are seeking, such as ingredients, allergen information, where the product was made, and the like.
GS1, the non-profit organization that assigns the unique numbers in barcodes, has developed a double-layered barcode it calls the “data bar,” NBC News has reported. The data bar can be scanned by the consumer using a smartphone app to access the information and provide links to additional information about the product.
The technology has been deployed by German retailer Metro, which has launched the PRO Trace smartphone app. With the technology in hand a consumer can see, as NBC News reported, that a filet of salmon on sale in Berlin on August 25 was caught at the Bremnes Seashore fish farm off the coast of Norway on August 17 and processed in Germany on August 21. “It’s about trust. Our customers challenge us to offer sustainable and safe products,” Lena vom Stein, a responsibility project manager at Metro, told NBC News.
As beverage marketers are increasingly challenged by balancing the demand for transparency and accuracy with successfully marketing their products’ points of differentiation, could technology solutions be far behind?