Exclusive to just-drinks is the first New Products Report of 2002. With the use of its Global New Products Database, leading drinks analyst Mintel investigates the growth of the ready-to-drink market, hot drink innovations, new flavours in soft drinks and much more.

December 2001, saw the introduction of some unusual flavours in the alcoholic beverages category. In Germany, Feldschlösschen launched a shandy made with 50% Pilsener beer and 50% blackcurrant flavoured lemonade, branded as MIXX Cassis Beer, it is packaged in a 500ml metal can.

New in Finland from Laitilan, was the Mocka Siideri, a 4.7% ABV, "mocha" flavoured apple cider. The product is packaged in a novel 330ml glass bottle depicting a coffee bean.

In the US, following a joint venture between Anheuser-Busch and Bacardi comes Bacardi Silver, a single-serve beverage designed in response to the success of Smirnoff Ice. It will be manufactured by Anheuser-Busch, and will be the company's first alcoholic, non-beer item. Launched in 2002, it is touted as being a clean, crisp, and refreshing alternative to beer.

Again looking ahead to 2002 finds the launch of a joint venture by Miller Brewing and Skyy Spirits.  The companies plan to unveil Sky Blue Ready-To-Drink Malt Beverage in early March 2002. The product will be made with vodka and will be packed in 6- and 24-pack cases of blue bottles.

Expected to compete with brands like Smirnoff Ice and Zima, sources state that the flavored alcoholic beverage will be malt-based, containing no hard alcohol. The company introduced Henry's Hard Lemonade in 2000, but has contained distribution to select markets on the West Coast.

Within the Hot Beverages category, Mintel#;s GNPD reports on some interesting chocolate and coffee introductions. In Egypt, a Nescafé branded cappuccino mix from Nestlé comes in a metal can that also encloses a small container of powdered chocolate, for sprinkling on top of the drink. It is packaged in a 225g metal can also containing a plastic container for the powdered chocolate and a measuring plastic spoon.

In the UK a new Kenco instant cappuccino mix has been launched, which is coupled with Suchard chocolate topping. The product is packaged into 8 x 20g sachets and 8 x 1g chocolate topping sachets in a paperboard box. Each sachet makes 1 mug or 2 cups and no milk needs to be added. Both are Kraft Foods brands.

White chocolate makes an appearance in the European hot beverages market. New in the UK, under the Options brand from Novartis Consumer Health is Wicked White Choc. It is a limited edition mix that was launched for the Christmas period, and is said to contain less than 2% fat and only 45 calories. It is said to be the only white chocolate drink on the market.

In China, dehydrated dates have been used to flavour a new "tea". It has been introduced by Shunlee Food under the Flower Looks brand, packaged in a plastic bag, it is said to be rich in fragrance with a full flavoured taste. In Germany, hemp has appeared in a tea format. New from Hanf und Natur is an organic hemp based tea in lemon or raspberry flavours. They are said to help calm and relax. Finally,in Russia, packaging developments in the hot beverage sector include the Cola Cao drinking chocolate brand from Nutrexpa, which is available in a 100g stand-up pouch with a new zipper closure.

Within the soft drinks category, Pink Grapefruit with Pulp is the latest variety in Tropicana's Calcium & Vitamin C Supplements range. This chilled beverage provides a third of the recommended daily calcium intake; it contains the ingredient FruitCal, which is said to be a highly absorbable and tasteless source of calcium. It can be found in supermarkets across Ontario. This follows the on-going launch of beverages fortified with herbs and proteins, and is an addition to the existing Tropicana Calcium & Vitamin C Supplements range.  Further flavours in this range include orange juice, first picked up by Mintel#;s GNPD in 1997.

In Finland, Marli have launched Glögi Glögg Drink Concentrate, a concentrated Winter juice drink which needs to be diluted with boiling water or red wine (in a ratio 1:3). Almonds and raisins can be added to prepare a hot winter drink. It is packaged in a 500ml glass bottle.

Further, new product development within the beverage concentrates market is being inspired by trends in ready-to-drink formats. For example, we are beginning to see the emergence of smoothie mixes (especially in the US). The latest has been launched in South Africa. New there from Frucon Foods is Wild Island Smoothie, a dairy, orange flavoured fruit drink packaged in a one litre bottle which makes eight litres of drink once diluted with water.

The RTD energy and sports drink market continues to push forward with innovative developments. We are also seeing the emergence of energy waters. There have been many energy drinks picked up in the past 2 months, with some carrying warnings of being unsuitable for children, diabetics or pregnant women. A selection of some of the most interesting blends include -  Solis Power Sports Drink in Australia from Great Southland Beverages, containing orange, carrot, guarana, ginkgo biloba, green tea, caffeine and vitamins B and C. Upper E=Energy, again in Australia, from Pure & Natural Beverages, is an energy drink with guarana, taurine and vitamins. A low calorie version of the Bomba Energia line, has been launched in Austria.

The demand for convenient, on-the-go snacking continues to be highly popular. It has encouraged snacking developments for breakfast cereals, spreads with dipping sticks, meal kits such as Lunchables from Kraft etc. The Nutella chocolate spread brand from Ferrero has also been launched in a new snacking format. New in France is Nutella Snack & Drink. It is a three compartment plastic pot with one section holding the chocolate spread, another containing stick-shaped biscuits, and the third holding a peach iced drink.

The International New Products Forum

Mintel and Leatherhead Food RA have joined forces to present The International New Products Forum. For details click here

The International New Products Forum is a one-day event offering delegates the unique opportunity to see and try some of the more interesting international food and drink launches of the past year.  A series of short presentations by key industry figures will also highlight the latest trends, developments and key market drivers.