Drinks industry analyst Mintel once again reports on all that is new in the beverage world exclusively for just-drinks members. This month The Global New Product Database sees the arrival on the market of potato-based soft drinks, gin RTDs and the continued expansion of the functional drinks sector.

While potato may be a recognised ingredient in certain eastern European vodkas, it is not a widely used base of many soft drinks. However, this month's GNPD reveals Canada's latest novel drinks introduction - Darifree!. Not your ordinary dairy-free beverage, Darifree! is made not with soy or rice, but potatoes! The product, manufactured by DariFree Development, is currently available in two flavours: Original and Chocolate. The beverage is free from protein, cholesterol, preservatives, MSG and oils.

Mintel has seen two interesting carbonated soft drink introductions in the US this month. First there is Red Fusion, a bright red cherry-flavoured soft drink from the Dr Pepper division of Cadbury-Schweppes Beverages. The second is Pepsi Blue from PepsiCo, a blue-coloured, berry-flavoured beverage that will be available in August. Pepsi Blue will retail in 20-oz bottles and will be targeted at teens.

Both follow on the heels of other novel soda introductions of late, such as Code Red Mountain Dew, Vanilla Coke, and Sobe's Mr Green.

Tea Time

Herbal infusions and teas remain an important market as consumers continue to be heavily influenced by the natural, therapeutic benefits of herbs and botanicals.

Leading tea company, Tetley is now attempting to give the market even more of a boost in the UK. It has introduced Tea:therapy, a range of black teas with the added taste and benefits of herbs. Varieties include Uplifting with ginseng and peppermint; Calming, with lower caffeine content, camomile, lemon balm and honey; and Balancing, again with a lower caffeine content but with added fennel and lime flower.  There are 40 bags in a pack and they retail at £1.39.

Continuing in the functional sector, Dairy continues to drive consumer interest in the health and well being category.

In the UK, Red Kite Farms is positioning its new Slumber Bedtime Milk as a sleep aid. It contains higher levels of melatonin (a naturally produced substance which allegedly regulates mammals' body clocks) than regular milk, because it comes only from milk produced at night when cows' melatonin levels are higher.

The company has said the natural levels of melatonin in the milk complement those of the human body meaning the drink will not make consumers drowsy the following morning or if it is drunk during the day.  Marketed at women aged 45 and over the product is packaged in a 330ml bottle and priced at £0.79.

Also in the UK, the Shape yoghurt brand from St Ivel is venturing into the functional market by introducing a Bio Yogurt Drink with L casei bio culture, enriched with calcium and vitamins. The drink is suitable for vegetarians and comes in two flavours orange and vanilla.

Water launches flow

Continuing a trend picked up by the GNPD last month, there has been further activity within the water sector. Two launches relate to packaging developments. In Italy, Tradelink has introduced, under the Ty Nant brand, a Welsh mineral water available in "knobbly" bottles that are said to depict flowing water. More interestingly, new in Japan from DyDo Drinco is Miu, a near water drink. Miu's bottle label incorporates fine particles of natural mineral rocks that are supposed to generate negative ions, claimed to relax the mind.

Expert Analysis

Functional Soft Drinks: Global Analysis

Focus on this rapidly growing sector in 8 major markets - providing data on sales, and details of new innovations.

 

In France, further launches highlight the continued blurring of the lines between the water and energy drinks sectors. The latest launch from Perrier-Vittel (Nestlé) under the Vittel brand is Hydratation & Énergie, an orange flavoured, water-based "energy drink" enriched with calcium, B vitamins and carbohydrates. Finally, the interesting flavour of cucumber features in a new Vichy Nouveau branded water in Sweden from Pripps. It is also flavoured with lemon.

Within the alcoholic beverage sector, gin is positioning itself as a flavoured spirit for the RTD (ready-to-drink) category. Until now Vodka has been the favoured spirit used in RTDs, but gin is attempting to also gain a share in the market. Guinness UDV is leading the way with the arrival of Gordon's Edge, which is available in lemon and lime flavours. It features the well-established Gordon's gin brand but is not targeted at traditional gin and tonic consumers. Instead, its aim is to entice younger consumers to the gin category. The launch is being supported with a hefty £5m budget.

A touch of flavour is also being given to another traditional drinks brand, Cointreau. The liqueur is being extended in Italy with the launch of Cointreau C, a lime & citrus flavour of the famous liqueur, again targeted at the younger drinker.